Friday, January 29, 2010

Bulk Bin and Checkout Prices

Beware those bulk bins in your grocery store.

One would suppose that products sold in bulk, sans packaging, would be less pricey than the same goods sold in boxes, cello-bags and vacuum cartons, or in boxes of individually-wrapped single servings. But one would be wrong.

In just about every case, unless the bulk bin product is on sale, the price is HIGHER, oftentimes MUCH higher. Even with sale prices, be very wary.

Take oatmeal, for example. (I've a particular interest in oatmeal of late.) My local grocer sells quick oats in the bulk bin for $0.29 per 100 grams. That's $2.90 per kilogram. The current regular price of a 3kg cello bag of Robin Hood Quick Oats is $6.99. The same weight purchased from the bulk bin is $8.70. The bulk price is 25 percent higher.

The situation is worse for tea bags. Not long ago, I did a comparison at another store, between the bulk bin price for regular orange pekoe tea bags and the price of a 144-bag box of a lesser brand (read, 'cheapest') of the same tea.

Don't recall the exact prices but have never been able to forget this: the bulk bin price for tea bags was double the regular price of the 144-bag box.

Also be aware, before you go to the checkout, of the price of everything you buy. Include an approximate calculation for items that must be weighed - use the scales in the produce or bulk section of the store to check the weight of the food you're buying.

Then keep your eyes glued to the checkout screen to make sure the prices match. More often than not, a purchase will include an item whose price is higher than advertised.


rob said...

That is bizarre. Do you have any idea what the rationale for that is?

Chrystal Ocean said...

Re the bulk bin prices, you mean? I suspect it's a marketing ploy, to suggest a bargain where there isn't one. Same idea with 'buy one, get one free' advertisements. In my local store, I just recently saw a promotion of 'Buy 2 for $4.00'. Which means, of course, buy 1 for $2.00. Given the regular price was raised prior to the 'sale', there are no savings here.

penlan said...

I noticed, a long time ago, that the prices were exorbitant when buying from bulk bins. The only advantage I found, on occasion, was when buying spices, herbs, I could get smaller amt.'s which cost me less than buying pre-packaged ones. Yes, I paid more for the lesser amt. of spice but could not afford the price of the pre-packaged ones. So at least I could have the odd spice here & there. Hope that makes sense.

Chrystal Ocean said...

It does make sense. Speaking of spices, that's one of the few cases I've found a savings when buying from the bins. Last spring, I bought tumeric and ceyanne. Hadn't been using spices at all, not salt or even pepper. Was lovely to have some additional flavour.

Another bulk bin bargain is green lentils. They are only sold locally in one grocery store and that's in bulk. Price is $0.21/100 gram or $2.10/kg. Red lentils are twice the price.

Mixed with sale-priced rice, frozen veggies, a $0.50 can of tomato paste (one for each of 12 batches), tumeric and ceyanne, one kilogram of green lentils can yield three months of high-protein meals.