The price gap between major brands and private labels is growing in Dutch supermarkets. Chains are also increasingly using localised prices, making general comparisons difficult. Online supermarket Picnic seems to be the overall winner of a price comparison by the Consumers' Union.
The Consumentenbond's main conclusion is that major brands become ever more expensive compared to private label products. In the latest survey (last month), the price difference between the two is 40 %, compared to 36 % the year before and 31 % in 2015. The price hikes can not be only a result of the higher VAT rate, which was raised from 6 % to 9 % earlier this year. Some of the increases in price are quite extreme, says the Consumentenbond: Blue band's baking product went up 48 %. A similar increase was not seen in any private label product.
Picnic was the cheapest for major brands, with prices 5 % under the average. Some Jumbo and Hoogvliet stores achieved the same level. Unsurprisingly, Aldi and Lidl had the bottom prices for private labels, at 15 % under the average. Both for major brands and private labels, Spar was the most expensive chain. Between the two front runners, Albert Heijn (which still has nationwide prices) is 4 % more expensive than the most expensive Jumbo stores for major brands - that is even 7 % for private label products.
Largely, the findings are similar to those of RetailDetail's survey of earlier this summer. Price differences between Belgium and the Netherlands are decreasing, as food is becoming more expensive quickly in the Netherlands.
The Consumentenbond compared the prices of 150 major brand products and 120 private label products in the fifteen biggest Dutch supermarket chains. The organisation said that comparing products is getting harder as most chains are adopting localised prices. Critics also say that its product basket was too small for a trust-worthy price comparison, and that its decision not to take discounts into account also falsifies the picture.