Prices on budget food and drink products in UK supermarkets rose faster than the overall level of food inflation over the last six months, leaving poorer households “to go without”, exclusive analysis by NationalWorld suggests.
Shoppers who purchase the in-house ‘value’ lines sold by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Aldi saw food and non-alcoholic drink prices rise by an average of 9.9% between April and September, according to a sample of more than 500 products we gathered price data for over that time.
Official food and drink price inflation stood at just 7.8% during the same period, according to analysis of the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Only Aldi and Asda did not put up prices by more than this margin across their value ranges. At Morrisons inflation stood at 15.8% (albeit with a small sample of items) while at Sainsbury’s it was at 12.4%.
For food products alone, we found value range inflation was at 9.8%, compared to 8% in the CPI. The figures confirm a trend NationalWorld first reported during the three months between April and July, though value range inflation has stormed even further ahead than official inflation since then. Back then value range food and drink inflation was at 3.6%, while the CPI was at 2.7%. You can keep up to date on all our supermarket price tracker news here.
While our value-range inflation rate is not directly comparable to the official inflation rate – ONS CPI calculations are complex, with items ‘weighted’ so that more important ones exert a bigger influence on the rate of inflation – it does suggest that poorer shoppers are facing an even steeper rise in food prices than official figures suggest.
‘Nothing left to cut back on’
The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the price of supermarket value range products continuing to climb faster than other products means “more people are being forced to go without”, adding people on low incomes “simply have nothing left to cut back on”.
The ONS also publishes individual inflation rates for specific types of product. According to our analysis, more than two out of five (44%) food and drink item value range products experienced price rises that exceeded the rate of inflation for their comparable category of goods. There were also many household items that saw above inflation rises, including washing detergent and toilet paper.
In some cases, prices went up many times faster than inflation. A packet of muesli at Sainsbury’s cost £1.20 at the start of April. By the start of September, it cost £2.25, a rise of 87.5%. That was more than 50 times higher than the official inflation rate for breakfast cereals and cereal products, which was at just 1.7%.
Bacon up 177%
Other stark examples include cooking bacon at Sainsbury’s (up 177.3%, compared to pork inflation of 12.5%), a pack of flavoured yoghurts at Sainsbury’s (up 50%, versus yoghurt inflation of 4%), chocolate chip cookies at Tesco (up 75.9% versus inflation of 8.8% for baked goods) and marmalade at both Tesco and Sainsbury’s (both up 92.6%, compared to inflation of 10.9% for jams, marmalades and honey).
Overall, value range food and drink inflation at Asda and Aldi was below the official CPI rate. Prices rose by 6.9% at Asda, and 6.3% at Aldi. However, both stores also imposed inflation-busting price rises on a hefty chunk of their products – 39% of the offering at Asda and 37% at Aldi.
At Asda this included a range of healthy products such as kiwis, plums, grapes and peppers. A tin of chilli con carne meanwhile saw a price hike of 49.2%, from 65p in April to 97p in September – dwarfing the inflation rate of 12.7% for ready or prepared meals. The most disproportionate price rises at Aldi were also among fruit and vegetables, including grapes, plums and carrots.
Morrisons had the highest rate of value range inflation, at 15.8%. There were only 23 items available for comparison between April and September however, as Morrisons initially had a slimmer value range offering than other stores, and a number of items have been out of stock or discontinued.
You can search for the value range products you buy in the table below to see how the price has changed over the six-month period, and how this compared to inflation for similar products. Some products may be missing, if price information was not available in both April and September because it was out of stock or not listed on the retailer’s websites. Can’t see the table? Click here to open it in a new window.
Rachel Statham, associate director for work and welfare state at IPPR, said: “One in seven people across the UK are skipping meals to make ends meet, and this dire situation cannot be allowed to continue as we head into the winter.
“We need to see the UK government get a grip of the cost of living crisis – starting with emergency support for those who are most exposed.”
Sainsbury’s and Tesco were both approached for comment. Sainsbury’s did not respond. A Tesco spokesperson said the company is “absolutely committed to helping our customers” and is keeping a “laser focus” on the cost of the weekly shop”.
“Whether it’s price matching Aldi on the basics, freezing the price of more than 1,000 household staples until 2023, or offering exclusive deals and rewards through thousands of clubcard prices, we’re more committed than ever to providing our customers with great value.”
Do you rely on value range grocery products and are you struggling with rising costs? We want to hear from you – email [email protected].
NationalWorld’s value range inflation rate is intended to be indicative of the rising costs faced by lower income households. It does not match the scientific methodology of the ONS.
Besides the fact the ONS CPI is weighted by item importance, the dates prices are collected will also vary compared to the ONS.