The price of some everyday groceries has more than doubled over the last year as the cost of own-brand items continues to rise, according to the latest findings from Which?’s food and drink inflation tracker.
In February, the consumer champion’s tracker analysed inflation on more than 25,000 food and drink products at eight major supermarkets – Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – to see how everyday product prices are being affected.
Which? looked at the items with the highest inflation at each supermarket to find which products have seen the biggest percentage price rises. The analysis covered the average price of the products in the three months to the end of February 2023 compared to the same time period last year.
The items where the average price has risen the most were Asda’s Free From Special Flakes (300g) and Waitrose’s Essential Italian Mozzarella Strength 1 (drained 150g) – which went from 62p to £1.43 (129%) and 80p to £1.77 (121%) respectively. Morrison’s Free From Corn Flakes (300g) also rose significantly from 60p to £1.29 (115%).
Sainsbury’s Hubbard’s Foodstore Water (2L), Tesco Creamfields French Brie (200G) and Lidl’s Chene D’argent Camembert (250g) have also more than doubled in price over the last year – going from 17p to 35p (106%), 82p to £1.65 (103%) and 99p to £2 (102%) respectively.
The consumer champion found a range of everyday items in each supermarket’s list of groceries with the highest inflation – including milk, meat and fruit. Own-brand products were particularly hard-hit and featured heavily in most supermarkets’ lists. For example, Aldi’s Nature’s Pick Honeydew Melon, which went from 95p to £1.70 (79%).
The exception to this is Ocado’s list, which only includes branded items. Cadbury’s Milk Tray Chocolate Box 360g saw the highest inflation at Ocado, rising from £4.21 to £7.81 (86%).
This reflects the trackers’ findings that overall, budget (22.9%) and own-brand (19.7%) items were again subject to higher rates of inflation than premium (13.8%) and branded counterparts (13.3%). Although, some branded products – such as Lurpak – have made headlines in recent months for their price increases.
The tracker shows that in February, the annual inflation of popular food and drink was at 16.5 per cent overall across the eight retailers. While the inflation rates have dropped slightly among some high inflation categories – such as butters and spreads, which dropped from 29.9 per cent last month to 26.1 per cent this month – it has risen across other essential categories.
For example, inflation on vegetables rose from 11.6 per cent to 13 per cent, juice drinks and smoothies went from 13.4 per cent to 15.1 per cent and cereals increased from 13.4 per cent to 14.6 per cent.
When Which? looked at inflation by supermarket it found that while the discounters remain generally cheaper than bigger rivals, it seems they have less room for flexibility when it comes to passing costs on to customers.
The tracker shows prices were up 24.4 per cent at Lidl, compared to 22.7 per cent at Aldi, 17 per cent at Asda, 16.7 at Morrisons, 14.2 at Waitrose, 14.1 per cent at Sainsbury’s,14 per cent at Tesco and 10.3 per cent at Ocado.
Which? is campaigning for all supermarkets to ensure that budget line items that enable an affordable and healthy diet are widely available, particularly in areas where people are most in need. They must also make pricing and offers more transparent so that people can easily work out which products are the best value.
Sue Davies, Which? Head of Food Policy, said
“Worryingly our tracker shows that some everyday essentials have more than doubled in price over the last year – with cheaper own-brand items particularly hard hit.
“Supermarkets need to step up and ensure everyone has easy access to basic, affordable food ranges at a store near them, particularly in areas where people are most in need.
“Retailers must also provide transparent pricing so people can easily work out which products offer the best value.”
Notes to editors
Which? Affordable Food For All Campaign
The consumer champion’s Affordable Food For All campaign calls on supermarkets to do more to ensure own-brand budget line items are widely available throughout all branches – including in smaller ‘convenience’ stores. They should also make pricing and offers more transparent.
More than 68,000 supporters have signed our petition so far calling on the supermarkets to take action.
Alongside the University of Leeds Consumer Data Research Centre, Which? has developed the Priority Places For Food Index which shows where in the UK people are the most vulnerable to food insecurity.
Which? supermarket food and drink inflation tracker research
As part of its Affordable Food For All campaign, Which? launched a new monthly tracker in December which tracks tens of thousands of products across eight major supermarkets. The tracker shows rates of inflation overall as well as by supermarket, product category and range.
Which? will be publishing this data each month in order to showcase how inflation is really hitting customers and putting pressure on the supermarkets to do a better job of supporting customers to keep food on the table during the worst cost of living crisis in over 40 years.
Inflation is a measure of how quickly prices are rising or falling and not of absolute price. The supermarkets with the highest inflation may also be the cheapest.
Which?’s tracker looks at 20 popular categories of food and drink at eight supermarkets — Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. It compares average prices across the same three-month and one-month periods year-on-year, including discounts but not multibuys or loyalty card offers. Figures are then weighted based on supermarket market share and the sales volume of each product category.
To see how these high levels of inflation on value ranges are affecting specific products on supermarket shelves Which? also looks at a three-month average – in this case from December – February 2023 – and compares it year on year.
While some minor price variation may exist due to different prices at different stores across the country and sampling techniques, Which? is confident this is unlikely to impact overall averages and inflation figures. Every month, we offer supermarkets the opportunity to comment on their own products with the highest inflation. Lidl has disputed these this month but has failed to say what the inaccuracies are.
Right of replies
Aldi declined to comment.
An Asda spokesperson said: “We’re working hard to keep prices in check for customers despite global inflationary pressures and we remain the lowest-priced major supermarket – a position recognised by Which? in their regular monthly basket comparison which has named Asda as the cheapest supermarket for a big shop every month for the last three years. We recently announced we would be freezing the prices of over 500 popular branded and own label products, more than half of which are fresh meat, dairy, fruit and vegetable products until the end of May.”
A Lidl spokesperson said: “We are extremely concerned that since the launch of this ‘tracker’ Which? has consistently chosen to publish information that we, and other retailers, have confirmed to be incorrect. This includes data for products that we do not even sell.”
A Morrison’s 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. We recently reduced the price of 1,000 popular products and remain committed to doing all we can to help when it comes to the cost of grocery shopping. Our Morrisons Easter Collector scheme is also now live for eligible My Morrisons members enabling them to receive a significant money-off voucher to spend at Easter if they meet the criteria and shop in the relevant weeks.”
An Ocado spokesperson said: “At Ocado, everything we do starts with our customers and we know how important value is to them right now. We continue to support our customers by investing in price across branded and own-brand products. We’ve also recently introduced the Ocado Price Promise so customers can be sure they’re getting great value.”
Which? approached Sainsbury’s for comment and hadn’t received a reply at the time of publication.
Tesco was also asked for comment.
A Waitrose spokesperson said: “Although no retailer is immune to inflation, particularly with dairy products comprising the majority of this basket, we’ve been working hard to keep prices as affordable as possible for our customers – and have already committed a record £100m to lower the prices on hundreds of everyday staples.”
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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