Supermarkets raise 'basics' prices faster than premium brands

Food Inflation
Food Inflation

Britain’s biggest supermarkets have ramped up prices of their basic food ranges faster than their premium products, an investigation by the consumer champion Which? has found.

Supermarkets’ own-brand and budget ranges jumped in price by 18pc on average in the three months ended in October, compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, premium ranges and branded foods increased by 13pc and 12pc respectively.

Overall, food inflation hit 16pc in October, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The investigation, which tracked prices at eight different supermarkets, found that the sharpest rise among own-brand products was a 200g tub of soft cheese at Tesco, jumping 72pc from 49p to 84p in the last year. This was followed by a kilo of muesli at Sainsburys, which increased 70pc from £1.20 to £2.03.

Tesco accounted for half of the top 20 biggest risers in own-brand products, with all 10 rising by at least 60pc over the past year. However, across all of its ranges, Tesco ranked among the lowest of all the supermarkets surveyed.

Sue Davies, of Which?, said: “We know the big supermarkets have the ability to take action and make a real difference to people struggling through the worst cost of living crisis in decades.”

Across all product ranges, Aldi and Lidl recorded the highest inflation at 19.6pc and 19pc respectively, Which? found. However, it noted that the German discounters still typically offered the cheapest products overall.

Asda ranked third at 15pc, followed by Morrisons, Waitrose, and Sainsbury’s, all at around 14pc. Tesco’s prices have increased by 13pc, it found, while Ocado was the lowest at 10pc.

Soaring food prices have been a key driver behind rampant inflation this year, as the war in Ukraine has pushed up industry costs across feed, fuel and fertiliser.

Shoppers are forecast to spend £60 extra on groceries this month compared with last year, according to the analyst Kantar.

Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s said that they were working hard to keep prices low for their customers.

Lidl disputed the figures but did not offer an alternative. A spokesman for the supermarket said: “We made Which? aware of multiple discrepancies within the data concerning Lidl prices. This included over 100 separate pricing inaccuracies, which were clearly highlighted to Which?. Despite this, they have chosen to mislead consumers by reporting data that they know to be incorrect.”

Aldi also disputed the figures. A spokesman said: “We are officially the lowest-priced supermarket in Britain and our customers always pay less for their shop with Aldi, which is why we have been named as the cheapest supermarket in November by Which? for the sixth month running.”