Passover Shopping in Israel: Who Offers Cheapest Groceries for Pesach?

Discount chain Rami Levy has the cheapest of the house brands checked by TheMarker.

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Israelis who want to save on their Passover grocery shopping would do well to forgo some of the leading brand-name products and switch to the supermarkets’ own private label brands.

A survey conducted by TheMarker that examined the prices on a range of holiday shopping items found savings of up to 50% on store brands, compared to similar brand-name items.

The Rami Levy discount supermarket chain had the lowest prices overall, even on brand-name products, but the savings were even bigger for the chain’s private label goods. On the items checked, the private label brands at Rami Levy were 23% cheaper overall than the name brands.

At the Victory chain, the savings on private label brands over the chain’s own prices on similar brand-name products was 15%, while at Super-Sol’s Super-Sol Deal stores — the retailer’s discount format – it was 17%.

Super-Sol was found to be the most expensive chain for both name brand and house brand products. The company’s premium-priced, city convenience store format Super-Sol Sheli was the most expensive, but even the Super-Sol Deal discount chain was more expensive than its’ deep-discount competition.

A shopper at an Israeli supermarket using a reusable bag, January 7, 2017. Faced with paying 10 agorot for a plastic bag, many are reusing bags or using trolleys.
David Bachar

While items from its own label were cheaper than brand-name products at Super-Sol, Super-Sol brand products were generally comparable in price to the brand-name items at Rami Levy. The finding was particularly surprising in light of Super-Sol’s efforts to promote the low prices of its Super-Sol brand products.

The survey, which was limited to price checks at Rami Levy, Victory and Super-Sol, found that a sample supermarket cart of selected brand-name items that cost 142.80 shekels ($39.34) at Rami Levy cost 165.70 shekels at Super-Sol Deal, the chain’s discount format. When name brands were replaced by private store label brands, the cart at Rami Levy cost 109.80 shekels, compared to 138.10 shekels at Super-Sol Deal.

The prices at Victory were in between those of Rami Levy and Super-Sol, with the brand name cart costing 152.60 shekels and the private label cart 129.75 shekels.

Responding for this article, Super-Sol said its private-brand products are distinguished by their high quality and therefore are cannot necessarily be compared to other chain’s private brands. Super-Sol said it conducted its own price comparison, which showed that a basket of private brand products at Super-Sol Deal was 16% less expensive than leading brand-name products.

Passover is a time of year when supermarket retailers engage in discounting and promotional sales in a big way. TheMarker’s survey was carried out on March 28, after the retailers began their Passover promotions. Conducted through the price comparison website mysupermarket.co.il, TheMarker randomly selected 11 items that are kosher for Passover and then verified that all three retailers had comparable private label products.

Israelis wrapping their shopping in plastic bags at a Shufersal supermarket. Picture shows a man in a white shirt with three bags, one clearly containing fresh produce and one a box of breakfast cereal. The third bag appears to have been doubled, presumably for strength. A woman standing next to him in line, wearing a brownish-greenish shirt and jeans, is holding a plastic bag with unclear content.
Dan Keinan

While not commenting specifically about Super-Sol’s private brand, Moshe Alpert, the CEO of mysupermarket.co.il, said the quality of some private label products are the same as their name brand counterparts, but the quality of other private label products is inferior.

The survey also found that there was a large selection of private label products for the holiday, offering substantial savings. At Super-Sol Sheli, the full-price and generally smaller store format of the chain, a one-liter bottle of Carmel Winery’s Tirosh grape juice, which is a common staple on Shabbat and Jewish holidays in many Israeli homes, cost 18.80 shekels, while the similar Super-Sol brand of the product at the same store cost 10 shekels — a savings of almost 47%.

Private brand products have undergone a transformation in recent years as food retailers recognized the profits that they could derive from selling them and the pressure that they are able to exert on manufactures to lower their wholesale pricing of them.

Super-Sol reported that last year, private label products accounted for 20% of its sales. Rami Levy, which only launched its private label at the beginning of 2016 managed to achieve 12% of sales from the Rami Levy brand.

Another player in the food retail sector, Hatzi Hinam, has also recently launched a private brand. On the other hand, the financial collapse of Mega, historically the country’s second largest chain, and the sale of most of Mega’s locations to Yeinot Bitan, which has no private label, has led to the end of Mega’s own private label.

For its part, the Rami Levy chain said that if the price check were conducted at another time of the year and not in the period leading up to Passover, the savings on its private brand over name brand products would be even greater, because manufacturers of brand-name products offer more promotions for the holiday.

In its response for this article, Super-Sol said in part that it sells a range of private label products, which are 20% to 30% cheaper than the comparable name brand item but are of the same or higher quality.

“[House brands] account for more than 20% of the chain’s sales, after years in which the Israeli consumer refrained from buying private label products.”