Price hikes on basic groceries up to 30%, Which? finds, as trust in supermarket sector takes a battering

The price of basic groceries such as butter, milk and cheese soared by up to 30% year on year in December, according to Which?’s inflation tracker, as new research from the consumer champion shows trust in the sector plummeting during the cost of living crisis.

Which?’s supermarket food and drink inflation tracker records the annual inflation of tens of thousands of food and drink products across three months at eight major supermarkets – Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – to see how inflation is impacting everyday products.

Uniquely, Which?’s tracker shows how inflation is impacting prices on individual products, product categories and ranges as well as comparing supermarkets by looking at prices year-on-year.

While the tracker shows that in December food and drink inflation was at 15 per cent overall across the eight retailers, butters and spreads went up an astonishing 29.4 per cent. Milk (26.3%), cheese (22.3%), bakery items (19.5%), water (18.6%) and savoury pies, pastries and quiches (18.5%) also saw higher than average price increases.

When Which? looked at the some of worst examples in these categories for the three months to the end of December 2022, it found Utterly Butterly (500g) saw dramatic price rises at several supermarkets including Waitrose where it went from £1 to £1.95 (95%), Waitrose Duchy Organic Homogenised Semi-Skimmed Milk (1 pint/568ml) went from 65p to £1.22 (87.1%) and at Tesco, Creamfields French Brie 200G went from 79p to £1.43 (81.59%).

Across supermarket ranges, budget (20.3%) and own-brand (18.5%) items were again subject to higher rates of inflation than premium (12.6%) and branded counterparts (12.5%).

Despite being the cheapest supermarkets overall according to Which?’s monthly price analysis, Lidl prices went up the most (21.1%) in December, followed closely by Aldi (20.8%). Asda had the third highest inflation but was closer to the average of 15% (15.4%).

Meanwhile at Waitrose (14.5%), Sainsbury’s (13.7%), Tesco (13.1%), Morrisons (12.9%) and Ocado (10.5%) inflation rose slightly less.

While the food and groceries industry typically enjoys high levels of trust from consumers, and enjoyed a significant increase during the pandemic, Which?’s latest Consumer Insight survey data shows recent price rises have coincided with trust in this sector suffering enormously from +67 in May 2021 to +42 now. 

Trust at Aldi and Lidl tended to be lower than rivals 18 months ago but has stayed relatively the same during this period meaning it’s now higher than average at +48 and +45 respectively. Waitrose had the lowest level of trust (+29) among all consumers, though trust levels among its customers were much higher. 

Among consumers who do not trust the sector, price rises emerged as a common reason, particularly the perception that prices are sometimes artificially inflated, and go beyond what is necessary for businesses to offset their own rising costs.

One participant, a man in his late 30s from the South East, told Which?: “The cost of food from supermarkets is close to unmanageable for many people, including myself. Given that large supermarkets make huge profits, I feel they could keep their prices down while we struggle with the cost of living.”

A 43-year-old woman from Yorkshire and Humberside said supermarkets “don’t care about the consumer and charge whatever they can to make as much profit as possible.”

High food prices and a looming recession are putting UK households in an increasingly precarious position, with many people previously telling Which? they were skipping meals in order to make ends meet.

Which? believes that consumers’ dwindling trust in supermarkets shows that the sector could be doing a lot more to help households through the cost of living crisis.

Which? is campaigning for all supermarkets to ensure that budget line items that enable a healthy diet are widely available and particularly in areas where people are most in need, make pricing and offers more transparent and provide targeted promotions to support people that are struggling most with access to affordable food.

As part of its Affordable Food For All campaign, Which? has published a 10-point plan of steps supermarkets can take across these three key areas to help ensure affordable food is available to everyone who needs it. 


Sue Davies, Which? Head of Food Policy, said:

“We know food prices have risen exponentially in the last year and our inflation tracker shows the dramatic impact this is having on everyday products at the supermarket.

“Some households are already skipping meals to make ends meet and our findings show trust in supermarkets taking a hit as many people worry they are putting profits before the people suffering during this cost of living crisis.

“Supermarkets must do more, Which? is calling for them to ensure everyone has easy access to basic, affordable food ranges at a store near them, particularly in areas where people are most in need, as well as pricing which enables people to easily work out best value and promotions to support people who are particularly struggling.”



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 and provide targeted promotions to support people in the areas that are struggling most with access to affordable food. 
  • More than 52,000 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

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • While some minor price variation may exist due to different prices at different stores across the country, this is unlikely to impact overall inflation figures.
Inflation by food category by %
Sep – Sep 21/22 Oct – Oct 21/22 Nov – Nov 21/22 Dec – Dec 21/22
Vegetables 9.7 10.6 11.0 11.1
Meat 11.8 12.1 12.8 12.5
Fresh fruit 7.7 7.8 7.7 6.8
Cheese 18.4 19.9 21.5 22.3
Chilled ready meals 12.3 13.0 12.8 13.3
Yoghurts 12.5 15.6 17.0 17.3
Fish 10.0 10.9 12.0 13.5
Energy drinks 9.7 10.2 11.4 11.0
Bakery 16.1 17.1 18.8 19.5
Cakes and cookies 15.8 16.3 16.7 16.4
Savoury pies and pastries and quiches 16.6 18.1 18.8 18.5
Water 13.9 15.8 18.1 18.6
Biscuits 10.2 12.3 13.8 14.9
Butters & Spreads 28.6 30.3 30.6 29.4
Carbonates 10.7 11.3 13.8 14.9
Cereals 10.8 10.3 11.0 12.9
Chocolate 6.7 6.6 6.6 6.5
Crisps 12.0 12.1 12.8 13.7
Juice Drinks and Smoothies 10.9 10.5 11.8 12.0
Milk 22.8 26.1 27.5 26.3
Overall average 12.9 14.0 14.9 15.0


Inflation by branded and own label food by %
Sep – Sep 21/22 Oct – Oct 21/22 Nov – Nov 21/22 Dec – Dec 21/22
Branded 10.8 11.8 12.3 12.5
Own Label 16.2 17.4 18.1 18.5
Own Label Budget 14.6 16.6 19.2 20.3
Own Label Premium 11.5 12.0 13.3 12.6
Overall average 12.9 14.0 14.9 15.0


Inflation by supermarket by %
Sep – Sep 21/22 Oct – Oct 21/22 Nov – Nov 21/22 Dec – Dec 21/22
Aldi 17.1 19.3 20.0 20.8
Asda 12.3 13.6 15.3 15.4
Lidl 17.8 18.0 19.5 21.1
Morrisons 16.5 14.6 14.2 12.9
Ocado 9.4 10.1 10.5 10.5
Sainsbury’s 11.4 12.8 13.7 13.7
Tesco 10.7 12.3 12.9 13.1
Waitrose 11.0 12.2 14.6 14.5
Overall average 12.9 14.0 14.9 15.0


Which? Consumer Insight Tracker

The Consumer Insight Tracker is an online poll conducted monthly by Yonder on behalf of Which?. It is weighted to be nationally representative with approximately 2,000 respondents per wave. The data in this release is from our November survey, conducted between 11th and 13th November 2022 with a sample of 2,064 consumers. Trust is reported as a net trust score, which is the proportion who trust a sector or brand, minus the proportion who do not trust it. 

Right of replies

Which? approached Asda, Tesco and Waitrose supermarkets for a comment on the specific product examples mentioned. Only Asda and Waitrose responded with comments, below: 

A spokesperson for Asda said: “We have a long-standing reputation for providing customers with outstanding value and it’s more important than ever that we deliver on this for them. We’re focused on keeping prices on branded and own-label products in check to ensure that Asda remains the lowest-priced traditional supermarket as shown by independent research carried out by Which? Magazine.”

A Waitrose spokesperson said: “With the increase in production costs for primary products and the war in Ukraine, no retailer is immune to inflation, however our overall price inflation is much lower than the examples selected, which have been impacted disproportionately. We’re working very hard with our suppliers to ensure we offer great value, while continuing to deliver industry-leading animal welfare standards, fresh produce grown with care and fair deals for farmers.”


About Which?

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.

The information in this press release is for editorial use by journalists and media outlets only. Any business seeking to reproduce information in this release should contact the Which? Endorsement Scheme team at


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