Good goods come in low-profile baskets
On any given day, within a few hundred square metres, the price of a kilo of rooster potatoes can vary hugely. On this day, they cost €2 per kg on Moore Street, 99 cent per kg in Iceland, 87 cent per kg in Lidl, and €1.13 per kg in Aldi.
In the face of stiff competition from the major supermarkets, butchers also have to adapt or die. John Hickey, CEO of the Craft Butchers’ Association of Ireland, estimates that the number of butchers has roughly halved in the past decade, now standing at between 1,000 and 1,100. Business has, however, bounced back by around 15 per cent within the past two years. FX Buckley’s has a long history on Moore Street. Making direct comparisons on meats is particularly difficult as the quality and grade of the meats can vary hugely from one place to another. But, at least for minced beef, it struggles on price: FX Buckley’s sold it for €7.99 per kg and Iceland for €6.74 per kg. That price dropped to just €4.10 per kg in Aldi and €4.06 in Lidl. But many butchers do good deals on chicken breasts. Sausages and bacon also tend to be significantly cheaper than supermarket-bought packets.
Always a go-to place for cheaper spices and sauces, especially if you’re buying in bulk, are Asian food shops which have been joined by Eastern European and African shops. They’re not just a source of home comforts for Polish, Nigerian, Indian or Chinese citizens. They can sometimes offer excellent value and could contribute substantially to a weekly shop. Most sell fruit and vegetables, meat, rice, noodles, sugar, biscuits, and other grocery items. Rice is good value compared to supermarkets, as are cooking oils, naan breads for that Indian dinner, and pulses.
One key ingredient in Asian food, coconut milk, tends to be cheaper in Asian food shops: the €1.50 price tag in the Asian Food Co on Mary Street and the Oriental Emporium on Abbey Street is significantly cheaper than a different brand in Tesco. Curry pastes, spices and tins of tomatoes can be competitively priced. Milk and eggs also compared favourably.
But around Dublin’s Henry Street, at least, value on fruit and vegetables didn’t match up to the big supermarkets. One kilo of onions, for instance, cost 79 cent in Lidl and Tesco, €1 on Moore Street and in Iceland, and €1.33 per kg according to Superquinn’s website. The price rose to €1.50 in the Asian Food Market on Mary Street and €1.80 in the Oriental Emporium on Abbey Street.
The Asian Food Co fared poorly on the price of iceberg lettuce, pineapple and leeks, while the Asian Food Co, the Oriental Emporium and Polonez on Moore Street were all expensive for lemons and carrots.
Prices sampled on January 17th, and refer to the cheapest brand. Tesco and Superquinn prices from their websites on January 28th