Higher Average Prices for Over 60% of Supermarket Goods Rice and Teabags Surge over 10% on Average

15 April 2019
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Higher Average Prices for Over 60% of Supermarket Goods   Rice and Teabags Surge over 10% on Average

Supermarkets are popular places for Hong Kong household to shop for their daily groceries.  In the Consumer Council’s 2018 annual supermarket price survey, the aggregate average price of the 230 top-selling items covered in the survey of 4 major supermarket chains (further breakdown into 12 major product categories and 50 product groups) rose by 1.4% year on year, lower than the increase in the Composite Consumer Price Index (2.4%) for the same period.  However, over 90% from the 12 major product categories recorded increases in aggregate average prices, with the highest found in the beverages category (4.4%).  From the 50 product groups, rice, surging as much as 10.7% in aggregate average price, created a rather significant impact on the expenditure of average households.  Furthermore, the highest and lowest average price change of different products in the same product groups could differ over 20%, consumers are advised to compare and shop around for the best deals.

The sample size of the annual survey was increased from 200 supermarket items in 2017 to 230 items in 2018, broadly divided into 12 major product categories covering staples, beverages and personal care products.  The sub-divided product groups were also increased from 45 to 50 to include new survey items such as chewing gum/herbal candy, instant/powdered desserts, honey/powdered drinks, toothbrushes, and plastic bags/paper towels. 

Out of the 50 product groups, 38 groups recorded an aggregate average price increase ranging from 0.1% to 10.7%.  The steepest rise was found in the rice and teabag groups, with over 10% increase.  Within the rice product group, the average price of 8 rice products rose from 6% to 15.6%, and half of them (4 rice products) rising in double digits.

The survey result also showed that the magnitude of price changes in different products under the same product group could vary substantially.  In the case of adult milk powder for instance, the aggregate average price was up by 4.9%, but 1 of the 3 items in the group recorded an increase of 18%, while the other 2 fell by 0.3% and 4.5%.  Of the 3 items in the teabag group, 1 rose by 23.5%, while the smallest increase was by only 0.7%.  Another example was in the instant/powdered dessert group, whose prices rose by 5.5% on average, but 1 jelly powder out of the 3 items in the group soared by 23.8%, while the remaining 2 were either remained unchanged or recorded a small increase of 0.9%.

Health-conscious consumers have opted in favour of soya milk and bean curd products in recent years.  In the survey, the aggregate average price of the soya milk product group increased by 8.8% as compared with 2017.  2 of the 3 soya milk items were of the same brand and went up by over 10%, while the other went up by 2.9%.  The bean curd product group continued to increase in aggregate average price over the past 2 years.  In 2018, the average price of 2 bean curd items rose by 8.7% and 4.1% respectively; 1 of the 2 items, covered in both the 2017 and 2018 surveys, recorded 4.5% and 8.7% in 2017 and 2018 respectively, totaling over 10% increase in the past 2 years.

Prices of frozen food were also on a steady upward movement, rising by 1.9% on average in 2017 and 6% in 2018.  The average prices of 10 frozen food items in this product group recorded an increase of 0.9% to 12% in 2018. 2 frozen chicken wing products of the same brand surged by over 10%, and 1 dumpling item rose by 9%.  A chicken sausage product snapped up in Hong Kong in late 2018 was due to a rumour that the manufacturer was filing for bankruptcy, rose by 5.3% and 5.6% in average price in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Toilet paper/facial tissue, household cleaning products, plastic bags/paper towels and laundry detergents and fabric treatments are daily necessities with notable increases in aggregate average prices during the year.  For example, the aggregate average price of the toilet paper/facial tissue product group rose by 4.6% in 2018.  The aggregate average prices of household cleaning products, plastic bags/paper towels and laundry detergents and fabric treatment increased by 4.3%, 3.3 % and 1%, respectively.

The year’s newly-added toothbrush product group had the biggest decrease in aggregate average price – down by 2.5% in 2018.  The average prices of the 3 toothbrush items in the group dropped by 0.7% to 3.6%, which was the only product group with the average price of each product falling.  Breakfast cereal recorded a fall of 2.4% in aggregate average price, with 2 of the 4 items decreased by 3.6% and 6.2%, while the other 2 went up by 0.3% and 3.9%.

Surveyed based on the scan data from the major supermarket chains, the Consumer Council released its first annual supermarket price report in 2005 to increase price transparency and to help shoppers compare prices of various product brands for smarter purchase.

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