Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s: Which UK Housebrand is the Cheapest?

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Move over Marks & Spencer. 

With no less than 3 UK house brands — Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s — now selling their wares in Singapore, thanks to collaborations with established local grocery players, anyone and everyone can easily satisfy their British food cravings with a trip to the neighbourhood supermarket (or a few clicks of the mouse).

But which of these are the cheapest to shop at? And are there any real differences between Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, given that all 3 are leading supermarket chains in the UK? 

To find out, we put together a basket of 12 items from Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, with the goal of seeing which brand gives the best value. 


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Not quite an apple-to-apple comparison

A few things to note. For the vast majority of items, we managed to find products that were similar in terms of ingredients and packing size or weight, enabling us to carry out a simple and straightforward comparison or an ‘apple-to-apple’ check, if you will. (Sadly, we could not find any actual apples to compare for our basket.)

There were a few items that we could not find equivalents for — these products were either sold in larger or smaller sizes. For larger items, of which there are 3 in the list, they also happened to be the cheapest in the category or close to being cheap. Hence, we’ve simply listed their unit price and weight/volume. 

Now, for the smaller items, of which there were 2, we’ve listed their pro-rated price for easy comparison of value. However, while calculating the totals for each housebrand, we’ve used their unit prices, as it would be impractical or impossible to buy them in units other than 1. 

Here’s what we found out.

ItemSainsbury’s (Redmart)Tesco (NTUC)Waitrose (Cold Storage)
Muesli (Fruit), 750gm$6.00$7.95$10.70
Peanut Butter, 340gm$3.10$4.25$7.50
Orange Marmalade, 340gm$1.90 (454gm)$4.95$5.70
Sardines in Oil, 120gm$1.60$2.55$2.80
Balsamic Vinegar – Modena, 250ml$2.50$3.45$11.95
Mint Sauce, 185gm$3.00 (250ml)$2.95$5.95
Pasta (Fusili), 500gm$1.70$2.75$4.20
Frozen Pizza (Cheese), approx 450gm$7.00$11.95$8.95
Cookies (Choc Chip), 150gm$3.50$5.95$5.85 ($3.90 for 100gm)
Canned Chickpeas in Water, 400gm$1.50$2.15$4.65
Mustard (Whole Grain), 185gm$2.20 (205gm)$3.25$4.20
Honey (Clear), 454gm$8.01 ($6 for 340gm)$6.75$8.50
Total (12 items)$40$58.90$79.00

Sainsbury’s (total cost: $40)

Sainsbury’s emerged the winner in our impromptu shopping spree, leading up to a total of just $40 for the entire basket of 12 items. This is significantly lower than its two UK counterparts, and we reckon it can pull this off because of Sainsbury’s collaboration with Redmart.

Sainsbury’s has managed to dodge the hefty listing fees charged by traditional brick and mortar supermarkets. This translates into a much lower cost of business, allowing it to sell its products for a lot cheaper.  

So if taste, packaging and other subjective factors aren’t important to you, your best bet to save money is to shop at Redmart for all your UK grocery needs. 

Oh, and since Redmart is an online store, don’t forget to use the right credit card to maximise your rewards. A good choice is the OCBC 365 Credit Card, which gives you 3% cashback on all online groceries with a minimum spend of $800 a month. 

Tesco (total cost: $58.90)

Coming in second is Tesco, which has partnered NTUC Fairprice to sell their housebrand goodies in Singapore. 

Now although their prices aren’t the highest, buying all your UK groceries exclusively from Tesco is not a good bargain. For the most part, you can find cheaper alternatives from Sainsbury’s. 

However, if you happen to be in a Fairprice supermarket, and spot that bottle of mint sauce that you need for the lamb chops you’re grilling up for dinner tonight, just go ahead and grab one for your basket. 

Don’t forget to take the opportunity to rack up some air miles, which you can put to good use on your next trip to the UK. We recommend the new OCBC 90N Card, which gives you 1.2 miles for every dollar spent locally. 

Waitrose (total cost: $79) 

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Waitrose — represented by Cold Storage in Singapore — emerged the most expensive out of the 3 UK house brands. 

This could be because Waitrose has a somewhat upmarket outlook in the UK, and it markets itself on factors like quality of its products, expertise of its staff and its forward-thinking business practices such as emphasis on fair trade and organic products. 

Do bear in mind that Waitrose has several lines of products, catering to a broad range of budgets. For instance, the Essential Waitrose line is said to be designed for everyday groceries. Meanwhile, Waitrose Duchy Organic is aimed at shoppers willing to fork out for higher quality, organic products. 

You can maximise your Waitrose spree with the Citi Cash Back Card, which gives you 8% cashback (capped at $25 per month) when you spend at least $888 per month.   

Conclusion

It will frankly depend on your preferences in shopping for groceries. Some of us love a good, therapeutic supermarket run while many of us enjoy the perks of shopping online because it saves you time (and a sore shoulder from carrying that big bag). Ultimately, you might want to save more cash and go with the most affordable options. To begin with, though, this comparison might give you a clearer idea of where you want your grocery money spent.

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