Eat or poop? Price of nappies and baby formula show parents have difficult choices to make


Consumers have difficult choices to make – and it’s not just dealing with load shedding or rocketing food prices they must contend with, but caring for their children, too. If the price of nappies and baby formula are any indication, the struggle is real. And so, too, the disparity between what retailers are charging for the privilege of buying essential basics. An annoyed mom has taken up the task of comparative pricing. Bold Online Marketing’s Michelle Venter, mom of a two-year-old toddler, said that she discovered significant price differences of more than R100 on some items between stores that are…

Consumers have difficult choices to make – and it’s not just dealing with load shedding or rocketing food prices they must contend with, but caring for their children, too.

If the price of nappies and baby formula are any indication, the struggle is real. And so, too, the disparity between what retailers are charging for the privilege of buying essential basics.

An annoyed mom has taken up the task of comparative pricing. Bold Online Marketing’s Michelle Venter, mom of a two-year-old toddler, said that she discovered significant price differences of more than R100 on some items between stores that are a few clicks or street blocks away from one another.

“It’s becoming a choice between poop and a meal for some parents and the consumer holds the short end of the stick. Something stinks,” Venter said.

“We often do comparative research on behalf of clients and I decided to apply the same principle to parenting. And what I found was disheartening.”

ALSO READ: Wiping your bum costs up to R1,30 per wipe, as toilet paper prices skyrocket

Venter compared the price of Pampers size 3 nappies’ bulk packs of 150 diapers. Babies R Us, a store she expected to be pricey compared to grocers, turned out to be the most affordable. She was shocked at the difference between what the specialist retailer charged – R379 – and the R120 premium that Checkers and Spar charged for the same item.

At Checkers, the cost of a single poop in a Pampers nappy works out to R3.26. That’s the equivalent of a third of a loaf of standard white bread, which sells for R10.99.

According to Venter, the Pampers brand is searched for online twice as many times as its competitor, Huggies. But she said: “I expected some kind of price parity between shops when, clearly, there is none.”

She priced Huggies Gold, Size 4 nappy pants Mega Box 100s as a control to the Pampers experiment. The results were similar, this time with Pick n Pay clocking in at R426 and Babies R Us again one of the second-lowest price tags at R329, with Takealot only R299. That’s a R127 difference between the pricing of the same item, in three different outlets.

Consumer activist Simon Lapping was astonished at the wide chasm between prices.

“It’s lower-income families that will be hardest hit by what, to me seems like blatant profiteering on an essential item.”

For R127, hard-hit consumers can buy a loaf of white bread, add 2.5kg of sugar for around R50, maize meal at R32.99 for 2.5kg, plus a litre of long-life milk for R15.99.

“And there will be enough change to buy two Chappies,” Lapping said.

– news@citizen.co.za

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