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Woolworths announces 'price freeze' as cost of living soars

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Supermarket giant Woolworths has vowed not to raise the price of almost 200 "essential trolley items" until the end of the year, despite inflationary pressures.

Some of the items in the prize freeze include flour, sugar, oats, eggs, tea bags, coffee, pasta, frozen peas, cheese blocks, bread rolls, bacon, and baby essentials such as nappies.

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci will officially announce the price freeze in an email to customers tomorrow morning.

"The challenges we've worked through together in the last two plus years have been unparalleled – from droughts and fires to COVID (A thru O), floods and supply shortages and now inflation and the pressure on household budgets," the email from Banducci reads.

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Food inflation began at the end of last year, and initially affected mostly meat and imported products, Banducci said.

Now, inflation was affecting almost every category of goods Woolworths sold, he said.

"Most recently, we have seen material inflation in vegetables given the very poor growing season on the Eastern Seaboard, due to the rain, high humidity and low light levels – hence what you may see on cucumbers, capsicums and lettuces amongst others."

Grocery prices have seen huge jumps in eastern states this year as floods, the pandemic and fertiliser shortages put increasing pressure on suppliers.

Recent Consumer Price Index data shows a 6.6 percent average price hike for vegetables in the last quarter.

Fruit has gone up by almost 5 percent while meat and seafood has gone up by 4.8 percent.

Banducci advised shoppers wanting to cut down on rising costs to get creative and mix up their usual shop by buying frozen instead of fresh produce, for example.

Mandarins and oranges were also good seasonal buys with plenty of supply at the moment, he said.

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Global inflation rate comparison

Speaking on Today yesterday, Coles Chief Operating Officer Matt Swindells warned shoppers to expect fruit and vegetable shortages to last for weeks as growers combat a "double whammy" of cold weather and flooding.

Swindells said that while there were shortages of lettuce, berries, beans, there were ample stocks of alternative fresh produce.

"There is still plenty of citrus, plenty of apples, pears, grapes … veggies are under pressure but you can still find great value across the shop. You don't to have come away from eating healthy," he said.

"Pumpkin's cheap, when it is cold and it is wintery, pumpkin and cumin soup will go quite far."

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Items in the Woolworths price freeze include: 

Pantry essentials – flour, sugar, vinegar, oats, eggs, tea bags, coffee, canned tomatoes,

tomato sauce

Meal essentials – pasta, frozen peas, cheese blocks and shredded cheese, bread rolls, bacon, chicken tenders, cans of tuna, yoghurt, juice, salsa  

Baby essentials: Little One's nappies, Smiling Tums pouches



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