Food fight

Geelong residents are changing the way they shop for groceries amid the cost-of-living crisis, and they are not alone – Victorians are now spending an average of almost $10,000 at supermarkets each year.

The cost of groceries is adding up. Photo: Ali Calafiore

A recent Finder survey of 1000 Australians found the price of the average weekly shopping trip has increased by almost 25 per cent, with 40 per cent of those surveyed reporting their supermarket bill was one of the biggest financial stressors they faced during the first quarter of 2023, alongside rent and mortgage payments.  

In Victoria, the average weekly supermarket trip is costing households $185 per week, a $37 difference from last year’s average of $148. From these calculations, that’s a price jump of almost $2000 in a year.

Geelong shoppers say they are trying to find ways to cut the cost of their weekly food shopping.

“I’ve had to start being more careful about what I buy when I go out now, rather than buying what I usually buy I look for the cheaper ‘home brand’ stuff instead.” Bachlan Ty said. “Just the other day I needed to buy laundry detergent, the brand I normally buy is usually around $18, now it’s like nearly $30, I just couldn’t buy it on top of everything else.” 

Leah Baulch, another Geelong local, said she had to cancel her weekly fruit and veg delivery from a local grocer because the prices had increased. 

“We’ve always wanted to support small businesses, but it’s becoming harder to do now,” she said. “Now when I go shopping, I have to make sure I always keep track of what I need with a shopping list, so I don’t go overboard and just buy what we need that week.” 

In a 2022 survey by Foodbank, more than two million Australian households (21 per cent) had experienced severe food insecurity within the past 12 months. That number is expected to increase by the end of this year. The hardest hit are households with children, with many having to skip meals or go whole days without eating because they cannot afford food.  

Not-for-profit organisations such as Foodbank Victoria and OzHarvest Melbourne provide support to these households, but many are buckling under the increase in demand for their services, and the need for community support is vital for them to keep running. 

The Geelong Food Relief Centre, a volunteer-based organisation that helps those in need through a food voucher system, has had to increase the number of welfare agencies it runs, to keep up with demand.

“Food insecurity is a very real issue in Geelong,” the centre’s stakeholder manager Lisa Wall said. “The cost-of-living crisis has only exacerbated the issues that led to it and households are struggling. We do what we can but we always appreciate any help the Geelong community can provide.” 

Geelong Food Relief Centre operates via its mini marts in North Geelong and the Geelong CBD. Since 2020, more than $1 million worth of groceries has been given to these minimarts to be distributed to needy residents.

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