Aggregate Average Price of A Basket of Supermarket Products Increased Slightly by 0.5% Significant Increases Recorded in Groups of Liquid Soap/Hand Wash & Infant Formula

18 April 2017
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Aggregate Average Price of A Basket of Supermarket Products Increased Slightly by 0.5% Significant Increases Recorded in Groups of  Liquid Soap/Hand Wash & Infant Formula

The annual supermarket price survey released by the Consumer Council revealed that the aggregate average price of a basket of products sold in the supermarkets in 2016 rose by 0.5% over the past year, 0.1% higher than the 0.4% recorded in the previous year.  When compared with the Composite Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the corresponding period (up 2.4%), the increase was relatively moderate.  Nevertheless, the Council found that the average prices of some particular groups rose significantly.  For instance, the increase of liquid soap/hand wash soared by double digits, the group of infant formula rose close to 5%.  Furthermore, price change of products from different brands in the same product group could vary substantially, the Council reminds consumers to shop around and compare price in making purchase.

The Council's supermarket price survey encompassed a basket of 200 grocery items sold at the 3 major supermarket chains and their affiliated supermarkets across the territory.  The 200 items under the survey was broadly divided into 13 categories and sub-divided those into 45 product groups.  Based on product categories, 5 recorded aggregate average price increases from 0.02% to 4.9%.  Categories leading the price hikes were "personal care products" and "pre-packaged breads/cakes", which went up 4.9% and 3.1%, respectively.  8 product categories recorded a drop in prices, from 0.3% to 2.9%, with "staple food" recorded the biggest drop, and its aggregate average prices lowered for 2 consecutive years.

Of the sub-divided product groups, the survey recorded increases in the aggregate average prices of 18 groups in 2016, ranging from 0.2% to 13.3%.  "Liquid soap/hand wash" led the price surge, with all 4 products in this group showing increases.  The average price increase of 2 items in particular, among this group, surged by 19.1% and 21.9% respectively over their 2015 prices, representing the greatest and the second greatest surges recorded in this survey, making this product group the only one seeing double-digit price increases in 2016.

"Infant formula" came second (4.6%), with the aggregate average prices of the 8 items in this group seeing increases ranging from 1.9% to 8.5%.  Increases of 3 items were higher than the group's average (4.6%), with prices up 6.8%, 7% and 8.5% respectively.  The aggregate average prices of this group had a staggering 17.3% surge in 2012, then the price increases slowed over the following 3 years, but the growing trend continued in 2016.

Prices of 27 product groups slashed from 0.1% to 5.4% on aggregate average price in 2016.  The groups with significant downward price adjustments included "packaged rice" (-5.4%), "butter" (-5%) and "wine" (-3.9%).

The aggregate average price of "packaged rice" has decreased for 2 consecutive years, with the 4 products in the group experiencing a cut in average prices ranging between 3.1% and 7.9% for 2016.  However, the Council has observed that, supermarket chains have put more rice of different brands on sale, and less packaged rice were commonly sold among the chains in recent years.

The aggregate average price of "edible oil", which belongs to the category of "staple food", has decreased over the past 3 years, from a drop of 1.5% in 2015 to a further decrease of 2.1% last year.

Moreover, in 2016, average price changes of 11 product items were found to be over 10%, with the average price of a liquid soap in 1L pack, saw the biggest jump of 21.9% over 2015.  The average price for a pack of 800 grams of adult milk powder recorded 18.8% decline, the biggest drop in this year's survey.

The survey also showed, among 17 groups, the highest and lowest average price change of different products under the same group could differ over 10%.  Among them, variations in the groups of "liquid soap/hand wash" (20%), "adult milk powder" (21.7%) and "beer" (25.6%) differed as much as 20% or more.  Supermarket shoppers without specific brands in mind should compare prices of different brands cautiously in order to buy suitable products with value for money.

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