Jars of spaghetti, soap, pasta and almond cheese: purchases are most often shipped New Zealand houses on shopping carts and car boots than on international flights. But as prices reach new highs, buyers are taking decisive action – including ordering products with delivery from Australia.

“It’s almost like Christmas,” said Belinda *, a Wellington woman who said she now regularly orders food online from all over Tasmania to supplement local shopping. According to her, browsing Australian products, she was amazed at the range of products and how much they are cheaper than those on the shelves of New Zealand.

The Guardian compared two carts assembled by Belinda, one from an Australian multinational shipping company to New Zealand and another from one of New Zealand’s largest supermarket chains. In total, even with currency conversion, the cost of goods and goods and a small customs duty, she saved almost 70 New Zealand dollars (64 Australian dollars) in-store for $ 267 – or about $ 80, including delivery fees to a local supermarket. “The only downside is also that many things are currently unavailable due to stock problems. But I think it’s because everyone started doing it, “she said.

In late March, a woman from Ottago attracted public attention after she posted on social media her basket purchased in Australia. She told TV Channel 1 that although she had saved about 35% on her products by buying nuts in bulk, dry goods and toiletries, she is unlikely to repeat the experiment. “I wouldn’t recommend others to do this because the order has arrived, so it’s not good for your carbon footprint,” she said.

“Also I now have 10 toothbrushes and almonds a year.”

Buyers in an interview with the Guardian said that although this practice was time consuming, it saved more than 25% on equivalent home stores. A number of buyers were concerned about the climatic impact of delivering their goods rather than buying them locally, but said: food prices are rising sharply in New Zealand, practice has illustrated desperate measures taken by families to ease costs.

In March, food prices in New Zealand were 7.6% higher than last year, the biggest annual growth in a decade. Fruits and vegetables have risen by 18%, hitting many households, which have already been strained due to high gasoline prices, rising rents and increased mortgage payments. On Thursday, annual inflation reached 6.9% – the highest level in three decades. Earlier this week, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he believed it would continue to grow, driven by international pressure.

Emma Anderson, 38, of North Canterbury, said she started ordering from Australia as home products became more inaccessible, and came up with the idea after seeing another woman’s experience in an online budgeting group.

“Prices have just skyrocketed,” she said. “It’s just completely overboard – it certainly makes me rethink the way I do grocery shopping.” Now Emma compares prices in several supermarkets and in Australia to find the best deal before buying.

In July 2021 trade commission investigation The New Zealand supermarket duopoly found that grocers were making huge profits and charging some of the highest prices in the OECD.

For those who turn to Australia for cheap basics, their purchases were not limited to perishable things – the main products of the pantry, such as pasta, flour, jars and sauces, dried fruits. Both Belinda and Emma said that in order to actually save, you need to deftly hunt for deals and buy groceries for $ 60 – enough to reach the threshold of free shipping.

“The biggest cost is your time – it takes some time,” Belinda said. A member of Belinda’s family had severely weakened immunity and the risk of Covid infection, so despite the lifting of restrictions, their home remained in mini-closure: working from home and ordering food online. Most New Zealand supermarkets require higher minimum costs or regular shipping fees, she said.

Ultimately, she prefers to buy local, and said she is concerned about the impact on the environment when ordering products from abroad. “But you know,” she said, “I have to do what I have to do.”

* Belinda’s name was changed at her request to protect her family’s privacy

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