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Shopping Around Grocery Inflation: The Best Buys for Fall | australian way of life


The global unrest has spilled over into the aisles of Australian supermarkets, driving up the prices of many staple foods. But the upward pressure is not evenly distributed.

Bread – or, indeed, any wheat product, along with eggs, meat and coffee beans are just a few victims of the spiral of inflation fueled by oil prices, rising costs feed and fertilisers, the conflict between major food exporters Russia and Ukraine, and tight global supply.

Shoppers in Australia are currently facing a “perfect storm” of rising supermarket prices, says Professor Wendy Umberger, executive director of the Center for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide.

While Australia ranks among the most food-secure countries in the world, Russia’s blocking of wheat exports from Russia and Ukraine means that domestic wheat producers are benefiting from higher world prices at export, she says.

Wheat prices – which will remain high this year – give new meaning to the rise in bread. Photography: Daniela Simona Temneanu/Getty Images/EyeEm

Bad news for bread and pastry lovers – wheat prices are expected to remain high this year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment, while Umberger says it will take up 12 months after the global conflict to see the market return to normal.

Beef and lamb have also become more expensive, says Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci, with a lack of stock and the East Coast drought the culprits. Retail prices are up 10% per kilo from the same period last year, according to industry research body Meat and Livestock Australia.

Dairy lovers are also likely to cry in their milk, with lower cow numbers and lower national production forecasts. John Droppert of Dairy Australia says droughts are a factor in lower stocks and labor shortages have affected dairy production, while some dairy farmers are also benefiting from high beef prices.

As for fresh food prices, they are being pushed up by input costs and catastrophic weather, says Shaun Lindhe, for AusVeg, the industry peak body, while labor shortages work have prevented some growers from planting, says Sydney Markets retail support manager. and home economist Sue Dodd.

“Climate change is even more worrying [for food security] than war,” says Umberger.

“We’re going to see more natural disasters driving up prices.”

But before you consider taking a second job, it’s still possible to fill your cart without breaking your budget, says cook and author Belinda Jeffery, who favors sustainable and seasonal food.

Smart food selection and substitution, based on having plenty of foods, in addition to being bolder with your menus, is the way to shop around for inflation, she says.

Fall shopping at the best price

Avocado cut in half
Mash them to your heart’s content: avocados are plentiful. Photograph: Errol Rait/Alamy

Apples: most varieties, from Royal Gala and Kanzi to Pink Lady and Fuji, are now in season. Expect to pay $2 to $8 a kilo, Dodd says. Much, much cheaper than out-of-season berries, with varieties such as blueberries pricing around $56 a kilo at the supermarket.

Lawyers: prices for everyone’s favorite smashed on toast are low because avocados are more plentiful. “There has been a very good growing season and lots of additional supply from Western Australia,” says Banducci. You will pay $1.20 more.

Peas : bought frozen, they’re excellent quality and inexpensive, says Jeffery. (About $3.80 a kilo.) “Try them with pasta, olive oil and a little chili.”

Broccolini: Broccoli’s more glamorous cousin is now in season, meaning prices have fallen to $3 a bunch in markets. High in fiber, nutrients, and with more protein than most other vegetables, it’s a good choice for greens.

Carrots: a stable for salads, stews, casseroles and stir-fries, at $2 to $3 a kilo, they’re also better than celery, at around $6 a bunch, for a crispy snack.

Beef Casserole: at around $18 a kilo compared to rump steak’s $45, it’s a slow cooker’s dream, says Jeffery. “Less expensive cuts such as steak, shoulder or lamb or neck chops make savory casseroles when combined with vegetables, onions, garlic and potatoes.” Pork and chicken are also likely to be cheaper per kilo than prime beef, with prices holding up, Banducci says.

Cauliflower: around $3 to $6 each, this versatile cruciferous vegetable can be steamed, boiled, roasted, sautéed or mashed.

Fresh and canned fish: as prices for popular varieties like snapper reach $58 a kilo, cooking with varieties like mullet or leatherjacket is the way to save, says Jeffery. Canned fish can also be used in fish cakes, salads and pastries.

Girl holding two pomegranates
Pomegranates are a value buy this season — along with other fall produce like pumpkin, apples, and broccolini. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Grapes: “There is a big supply from South Australia,” says Dodd. Prices range from $3 to $20 per kg, depending on quality. Ideal for school lunches, desserts or snacks.

Lemons and limes: both plentiful and useful for spicing up salads or sauces, rather than expensive dressings. You will pay $3 to $5 per kilo for lemons and 80c to $1.50 each for limes.

Pomegranates: fabulous with lamb or fish, or with desserts, says Dodd, they can be found at farmers’ markets for around $1.50 each.

Pumpkin: mash it, serve it roasted, or add it to frittata or pasta. From $1 to $2 per kilo.

Yam: spend $2 to $4.50 per kilo and get a foodie favorite that adds substance and satiety to meals with 20g of carbs per 100g.

Watercress: at $3 to $3.50 a bunch, it’s the best value and probably cheaper than fancy lettuce. Bake it or use it in salads, says Dodd.

Nine tips for eating well on a budget

Couple shopping at farmers market
Some farmers’ markets may offer fresh and cheap produce, but that’s not the case everywhere. Photography: Nick Rains/Getty Images

1. Compare your options

At some farmers’ markets, you’ll get better, fresher ingredients and pay less, says Jeffery, because they cut out the middleman. If this isn’t the case in your area, it’s also worth comparing the prices of specialty green grocery stores with larger supermarkets, as bigger doesn’t always mean cheaper.

2. Buy what’s in season

“We’re getting used to having strawberries or blueberries year-round, but buying what’s in season is nutritionally important and the price is premium,” says Jeffery.

3. Buy frozen vegetables if fresh ones are too expensive

Snap frozen, not stored – nutrient content remains high.

4. Beans, beans, beans and legumes

Load them up with potatoes, onions, spices and a handful of spinach for soups, suggests Jeffery. “We have to get away from the idea that meat and three vegetables constitute a meal.”

5. think simple

Bake potatoes and serve with toppings such as grated cheese, tuna, or mashed avocado.

6. One chicken, three meals

Buying a whole chicken costs less per kilo and means a roast one evening, a curry the next, the carcass being able to be used to make broth for a risotto.

7. Properly store fresh food

Don’t wash greens before putting them in the fridge, just wrap them in a damp paper towel and put them in an airtight container or compostable bag. They will last longer.

8. Grow your own herbs

If you have no other space, grow your own inexpensive herbs. “A little can really make a difference in the flavor of food,” says Jeffery.

9. Adapt your menus and cook around what you buy

Eat more diverse and expand your taste to what our climate will allow us to eat.