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Sydney, you're paying 41% more for bread than pre-pandemic

CHOICE compares food prices from multiple categories over the past five years to find out what's changed.

woman standing in the kitchen looking at a supermarket receipt
Last updated: 29 February 2024


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • We compared our old receipts from Coles, Woolworths and IGA to current supermarket prices in Sydney 
  • Our research confirms there have been significant price increases across several food and drink categories since 2019
  • A government inquiry is being made into supermarket price-setting practices

Most of us have probably fallen victim to the shock at the supermarket checkout when it's time to pay, and for good reason: food prices have gone up significantly. But just how much more are things like cheese, pasta and cereal costing than they did a few years ago? 

We decided to look at a selection of food categories we've tested over the past five years, comparing Sydney metro supermarket receipts from 2019–2022 with current online prices (and some instore) to come up with average price increases for some common pantry and dairy products.  

White sliced bread

Sydney is paying $4.45 on average for a loaf of white sliced bread 

Back in 2019 we reviewed 30 sliced white breads, so we decided to see how much these same loaves of bread cost in 2024. Only 18 had their prices listed or were still available for purchase. 

  • A packet of white sliced bread used to cost $3.40 on average, now it costs $4.45.
  • The cost of white sliced bread has gone up 41% since 2019.
  • Bread from Coles went up 37% on average.
  • Bread from Woolworths went up 56% on average.
  • Bread from IGA went up 37% on average.
  • There weren't enough prices available from Aldi to get an average.

Instant coffee

Sydney is spending over $7 more on average per year for instant coffee

Of the 14 instant coffees we reviewed in 2019, only 10 listed their prices or were still available for purchase in 2024. 

  • The price of instant coffee has gone up 18% since 2019 at Coles and Woolworths.
  • Prices have gone up by approximately 79c per 100g.
  • Bushells 200g Gourmet Instant Coffee had the biggest price increase with a 42% price hike from $6 to $8.50 at Coles.


A Sydney family is now paying $37 more each year to have pasta three times a week

We looked at 24 packs of spaghetti that we reviewed back in 2020 and compared those prices with their prices today. Twenty of these products had their prices available or were still available on the market.

  • The cost of pasta has risen by 11% on average since 2020.
  • Pasta from Coles has gone up 8% on average.
  • Pasta from Woolworths has gone up 11% on average.
  • Pasta from IGA has gone up 15% on average.
  • There weren't enough prices available from Aldi to get an average.

The pasta with the biggest price jump was Barilla Spaghetti No. 5 from Woolworths with a 46% increase. We also found three pastas that are cheaper today than they were in 2020: Coles Spaghetti (clear pack), IGA Community Co Spaghetti No. 5, and Woolworths Spaghetti all cost $1.20 previously and now cost $1. This suggests there's still some healthy competition in the world of homebrand pasta.

Cheddar cheese

Sydneysiders could be paying an extra $84 on average per year for cheese 

Of the 28 cheddar cheeses we taste-tested and reviewed in 2021, only 13 had prices available or were still available on the market.

  • Cheddar cheese has gone up 23% on average since 2021.
  • The same cheddar cheese used to cost $7.21 on average back in 2021 and now costs $8.83.
  • Cheddar cheese from Coles has gone up 19% on average.
  • Cheddar cheese from Woolworths has gone up 25% on average.
  • Cheddar cheese from IGA has gone up 26% on average.
  • There weren't enough prices from Aldi to get an average.

The cheddar cheese with the highest price increase was Great Ocean Road Vintage 500g from Coles with a price increase of 47%. There was one cheddar cheese that actually dropped by 2%, and that was Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar 190g, also from Coles.


You saved money if you bought butter from Woolworths rather than Coles 

In 2022 we looked at 43 blocks of salted, unsalted and cultured butter to find out which one tastes best. Twenty-nine of these butters had their prices available or were still available on the market in the same form in 2024.

  • The cost of butter has gone up 9% since 2022.
  • Butter from Coles has gone up 14% on average.
  • Butter from Woolworths has gone up 3% on average.
  • There weren't enough prices available from Aldi and IGA to get an average.

Both President French-made salted and unsalted butters bought from Woolworths have had a price decrease of 9% since 2022. If this trend continues, you'll be better off buying your butter from Woolworths than Coles.

Kids' cereal

You could be spending $45 more a year on your children's cereal

We looked at 49 kids' breakfast cereals that we reviewed in 2022 and compared them to their current prices. 29 of these products had their prices available or were still available on the market.

  • Kids' cereals have increased in price by 20% since 2022.
  • A box of kids' breakfast cereal used to be about $4.86 in 2022, but those same cereals are now $5.73 on average.
  • Breakfast cereals from Aldi went up by 1% on average.
  • Cereals purchased from Woolworths went up on average 26%.
  • There weren't enough prices available from Coles and IGA to get an average from those stores.
  • The cereals with the biggest price jump were the Freedom Foods/Freedom Classic brands with a 67% increase.
  • Many of the cereals that had no price increase were from the Goldenvale (Aldi) and Kellogg's brands (purchased from Woolworths only).

Kitchen staples

Shop around for sauces – they've gone up 44% on average in a year at Woolworths

We looked at 30 kitchen staples (like sauces, flour and rice) that we bought from Woolworths as recently as 2022 and compared their prices. Twenty-seven of these products still had their prices available.

  • Kitchen staples have gone up 18% since 2022 at Woolworths. 
  • Sauces have seen some steep increases: The cost of Masterfoods Teriyaki Marinade 375g went up 60%, Kikkoman Soy Sauce 600mL went up 23%, and Old El Paso Medium Taco Sauce 200mL went up 50%.
  • Woolworths Microwave Brown Rice 250g went up 17% and Sunrice Long Grain Premium White Rice 1kg went up 50%.
  • Woolworths Essentials Cornflour 500g went up by 18% and White Wings Self-Raising Flour 2kg went up by 24%.
  • Woolworths Thickened Cream 600mL went up by 32%.

Interestingly the cost of Macro chicken mince and Macro grass-fed beef mince (500g) has decreased by 5% since 2022.

So how does this affect your food budget?

  • In just over a year, your kids' breakfast of cereal and milk has gone up about 10c per serving. If you've got two kids eating cereal every day, that's an increase of over $70 a year.
  • Let's say your family of four likes ham sandwiches on white sliced bread. This may have cost your family $1.57 per serve per day back in 2019. In 2024, it now costs $1.99 per serve. For four people three times a week, that means an extra cost of over $262 each year.
  • A pasta dinner (not factoring in toppings or sauce) three times a week is now costing you an extra $37 on average per year than it did in 2020.

These cost increases may not look like much individually, but when teamed with price rises for rent, electricity, fuel and insurance (among other things), it really adds up. A recent national survey we conducted found that 94% of Australians are dealing with higher household bills and expenses, while 87% are worried about paying for food.

What is being done about it?

While this all looks very bleak, the government has announced that there will be an inquiry into Australia's major supermarkets, with a Senate Select Committee set to look into how supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles set their prices as well as their overall market power. 

Bea Sherwood, a senior policy adviser at CHOICE, is working hard to introduce accountability through this inquiry: "In February 2024, CHOICE made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Supermarket Prices, calling on the government to step in and introduce new measures to make grocery pricing fair and transparent."

These include: 

  • a mandatory information standard to simplify price tags 
  • a ban on unfair pricing practices such as member-only pricing 
  • 'shrinkflation' labelling that requires supermarkets to disclose the change in price or size of a product 
  • a requirement for supermarkets to publish historical pricing information so people can see how much a product has increased in price over time 
  • the enforcement and expansion of the Grocery Unit Pricing Code 
  • passing important reforms such as merger laws and a ban on unfair business practices to protect consumers from further market concentration and unfair practices.

Until we hear of the outcome of this inquiry, check out our top tips to save at the supermarket.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.