Whiskas and Pedigree pet food pulled from Tesco shelves in price row

·3 min read
whiskas cat food tesco pet food supermarket inflation food prices economy
whiskas cat food tesco pet food supermarket inflation food prices economy

Whiskas and Pedigree pet food is disappearing from Tesco’s shelves in a fresh row over prices.

The items are running low in supermarkets and online after Mars, the US owner of the brands, paused supplies. The company also owns the Sheba and Cesar pet food brands. Mars’ chocolate and confectionery products are not affected by the dispute.

The dispute is understood to be over efforts by Mars to raise prices, which Tesco is resisting.

A Mars spokesman said they were aware that some of their pet products were currently out of stock at Tesco stores, but declined to comment “on individual commercial relationships and situations”.

A Tesco spokesman said they were “laser-focused on keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check”. The supermarket will continue to sell its remaining stock of Mars pet food.

Major brands are seeking to pass on rising costs to supermarkets as they grapple with higher raw materials, energy and labour costs.

Supermarkets, meanwhile, are trying to keep price increases to a minimum in the face of rising inflation and a slump in consumer confidence.

A Mars spokesman said: “The pet food industry, like many others, is operating in a volatile context marked by wide-ranging inflationary pressures, and we continue to absorb these rising costs as much as possible.

“The in-store price continues to be at the sole discretion of the retailer.”

The gaps on shelves mark the second dispute over pricing with a major supplier in a fortnight after a similar disagreement between Tesco and baked bean seller Heinz. 

Heinz is understood to have asked for a more than 30pc price increase. It paused supplies after Tesco refused to agree to the new terms. Issues with Heinz are still ongoing.

Steve Dresser, an independent retail analyst at Grocery Insight, first flagged the scarcity of the pet food on social media, with labels on shelves saying “no stock arriving to store until 23 July”.

A Tesco spokesman said: “With household budgets under increasing pressure, now more than ever we have a responsibility to ensure customers get the best possible value, and we will not pass on unjustifiable price increases to our customers.

“We’re sorry that this means some products aren’t available right now, but we have plenty of alternatives to choose from and we hope to have this issue resolved soon.”

The disputes, sparked by inflation, come six years after Unilever brands Marmite, PG Tips and Pot Noodles disappeared from shelves in a similar wrangling, and five years after Heineken brands were pulled.

Earlier this year, Colgate products also disappeared from Tesco’s shops. Both firms declined to say why, but retail pundits suggested it was because of a row over pricing as suppliers try to charge more, and supermarkets resist.

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