Posted: Fri 22nd Sep 2023

Which? uncovers skyrocketing price gaps for staple foods in UK Supermarkets

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Sep 22nd, 2023

New research from consumer watchdog Which? has highlighted alarming disparities in the prices of everyday staple foods, from rice and spaghetti to baked beans and tea bags.

The findings come at a time when the cost of living is on the rise and food has become the largest contributor to overall inflation, overtaking household bills.

In a comprehensive study, Which? analysed prices for almost 26,000 food and drink products across eight leading UK supermarkets—Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose.

The survey, conducted in August, examined not only overall food prices but also the difference between budget, standard own-brand, and branded versions of everyday essentials.

The most striking example showed that shoppers could pay 246% more for long-grain rice at Asda if the budget range was unavailable, and an astounding 833% more if opting for a popular branded version.

Similar scenarios were observed at Tesco and Sainsbury’s, where the branded rice option was 910% more expensive than the budget version.

To make matters worse, Which? has found that supermarkets charge higher prices for the same products at convenience stores, compared with larger stores.

This means that Which?’s latest price comparisons are likely to be a conservative estimate of what the absolute price may look like for convenience store customers.

Previous research has shown that essential budget lines are rarely sold in these smaller outlets, and when they are available, the prices are frequently higher than in larger stores.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) supports the Which? findings.

For August, food has overtaken household bills as the primary contributor to the UK’s inflation rate, which saw a slight slowdown to 12.5% according to Which?’s inflation tracker.

However, the decrease doesn’t ease the burden on households, as prices continue to rise at a significant pace.

Morrisons has taken some steps to address the issue, announcing it would stock 10 budget-range items in 500 of its Daily stores, with 30 more to follow.

Tesco has also vowed to swap branded goods with cheaper alternatives in Express stores but stopped short of committing to stock its cheapest budget ranges.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s and Asda have yet to make any significant changes in their convenience stores, despite the cost of living crisis affecting millions of UK households.

Sue Davies, Which? Head of Food Policy, said, “As millions struggle with increased food prices and other high household bills, it’s staggering that shoppers face paying over three times more for items if they can’t get to a larger supermarket.”

Which? is urging all major supermarkets to ensure that expensive convenience stores are stocked with a range of essential budget ranges to ease the financial strain on consumers.

Morrisons acknowledges the current period of inflation and emphasises their efforts to keep prices competitive, a spokesperson said: “This is an unprecedented period of inflation and we are working hard to keep prices down and competitive for our customers while maintaining high standards and availability in all our stores.”

Sainsbury’s highlights their commitment to keeping prices low, a spokesperson said: “We are acutely aware of the pressures facing millions of households right now and our number one priority continues to be doing all we can to keep prices low for our customers.”

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