Supermarket survey: How local chains stack up for price and quality

Checkbook surveyed 22 supermarket chains and more than a thousand Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers to rate grocery stores on price, service, selection and quality.

One major change, according to president Robert Krughoff, is our shopping options. Grocery chains are adding new stores all over.

"Competition does matter," said Krughoff. "When we were doing this a few years ago, Trader Joe's prices were substantially lower than what we'd find at a Safeway or Albertsons."

The Checkbook survey found that Trader Joe's prices on many items now, are about the same as store brands at other chains.

The just-released survey found competition is driving price and quality. Walmart is known for low prices. Many people stick to Safeway, or always go to Albertsons. But check out Checkbook's food basket comparison of national brands:

  • Walmart Supercenter: $78
  • WinCo: $79
  • Walmart neighborhood market :83
  • Fred Meyer: $91
  • Target: $91
  • Albertsons: $100
  • Safeway: $101

"But, it's interesting to know, that Fred Meyer rates much higher than Safeway or Albertsons in terms of quality and is actually substantially cheaper," Krughoff added.

Checkbook says customers tended to report better quality, selection and service at high end stores such as Central Market, Ballard Market, Metropolitan Market, Whole Foods and PCC. But the survey found customers who do all their major buys at high-end stores are spending between $1,300 and $4,500 extra a year.

"I just think people should know that," said Krughoff. "Some people won't change anything, and some people will change quite a bit." is a subscriber-based consumer rating service. As a courtesy to KOMO viewers the full supermarket survey report will be available on the KOMO News website for 2 weeks. The link will stay active until November 22, 2013.

The Checkbook supermarket check also addresses prices and selection at Target, as well as warehouse membership clubs like Costco and Sam's Club.