Improving food affordability in remote communities

Improving food affordability in remote communities

Outback Stores prides itself on providing affordable fruit and vegetable pricing and cheaper bottled water and diet soft drinks in the community stores we manage in remote and regional areas.

Over the past twelve months we have been working on consolidating our supplier base to improve food affordability.

In August this year, through working closely with some our key partners we were able to drop pricing on some key staple food lines, including:

  • 2lt Premium refrigerated milk – $3.99
  • 12pk eggs – $3.99
  • 1kg flour – $1.49
  • 2kg flour – $2.99
  • 1kg rice – $2.49
  • 750g rolled oats – $1.79
  • 1lt UHT milk – $1.99

A basket of basic foods at an Outback Stores managed community store ($179.64) is almost $35 cheaper than the same goods purchased in a similar community store or regional roadhouse ($214.32).

This year we introduced a new promotional program to make weekly shops more affordable. Currently we are running specials on key products such as Dynamo, Sorbent, Sui Min noodles and Spam.

Late last year we brought in an affordable range of basic kitchen appliances to encourage people to prepare their own healthy food, including toasters ($14.99), rice cookers ($29.99) and kettles ($14.99).

Outback Stores works hard to make sure pricing enables the stores to break even or return a profit, while still providing value pricing for fruit and vegetables, and promoting healthy options above unhealthy products like sugary drinks. We recognise it is not possible to provide all foods and goods as cheap as those offered by larger retailers in city or regional settings, our priority is on the basics and healthier options.

Doing business in remote communities is expensive. Our suppliers endure additional freight costs to source food and goods from eastern states to their supply base in the Northern Territory, before freighting them to remote communities. Day to day operating costs are also comparatively high.

We are an organisation that runs on not-for-profit principles, any profits from the community stores that we manage are distributed into the communities they operate in. Last year Outback Stores made an operating loss of $147,155. It’s important that we continue focusing on delivering improved food affordability. We look forward to sharing more updates in this area in the near future.