The poorest households may be experiencing a bigger squeeze on their weekly shopping budgets than others as supermarkets raise the prices of their basic food and drink lines.
An investigation by NationalWorld has found evidence suggesting supermarkets imposed bigger price rises on some of their cheapest value range products last month compared to their standard own brand lines.
It comes after we exclusively revealed that UK supermarkets hiked prices on over 100 value range items last month.
The Government is coming under increasing pressure to act to cushion the blow of sky-high inflation on households, after it failed to make any mention of new measures to tackle the cost of living crisis in the Queen’s Speech earlier this week (10 May).
Inflation for food stood at 5.8% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) – meaning prices were on average 5.8% higher than
But campaigner Jack Monroe argues the measure may mask the extent of price increases for low-income households, if more modest increases for high-end or inessential products drag the average down.
What products has NationalWorld tracked?
NationalWorld created a shopping basket of 54 value range items available at UK supermarkets, and compared them with corresponding own brand products.
The items were selected based on whether a value range product and matching own brand version were available in at least three of the big four traditional supermarkets: Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
All four shops carry value range baked beans as well as an own brand version, so baked beans were included.
Other items include chopped tomatoes, dark chocolate, frozen prawns, honey, dry pasta, bacon, tea and coffee, among others.
Online snapshots were taken on 4 April and 2 May, the first Monday of each month, to monitor price changes.
How did prices change last month?
We found that items in our value range basket had increased by an average of 1% during that time (a figure that includes all items that saw no change or price cuts, too) while items in our own brand basket increased by only 0.4%.
When looking only at items that saw price rises, the average increase for the value range was 10.1%, versus 7.4% for the own brand.
Price increases did not always come in pairs – the list of value range products seeing price hikes differs from the list of own brand items that saw price rises.
There were six instances where a shop increased the price of both items, but the value range product had a sharper rise. These were:
- Sainsbury’s cottage pie ready meal – value product up 25%, own brand up 11.1%
- Sainsbury’s macaroni cheese ready meal – value product up 25%, own brand up 12.5%
- Tesco coleslaw – value range product up 12.1%, own brand up 3.7%
- Tesco mild cheddar – value range up 5.9%, own brand up 3.1%
- Tesco red Leicester cheese – value range up 5.9%, own brand up 3.1%
- Asda dry pasta – value range up 10.3%, own brand up 7.1%
This compared to three instances where both increased but the own brand product went up by more.
Which items have seen price rises?
You can explore the data from our value and own brand shopping baskets in the table below to see how prices changed across the two ranges in each supermarket.
All prices were correct as of 2 May.
Click here to view the table in a new window if it doesn’t appear.
Is this the full picture?
Our investigation gives an insight into the situation facing UK shoppers.
There are several hundred value range products on offer across the four supermarkets.
Because a product had to be available to buy on at least three of the shops’ websites to make it into our basket of goods, there could be value range items with comparatively low price rises that have been excluded.
Measuring every value range product at every shop against a corresponding own brand item could tell a different story.
Our shopping basket is also not weighted, unlike with official ONS inflation figures, meaning every item counts equally regardless of how essential it is to people’s lives.
Are you struggling with the cost of food? Have you noticed an increase in your weekly shop? We want to hear from you. Contact [email protected].
Where there was more than one size of a value product, the smallest/cheapest was chosen. When there was more than one size of an own brand product available when looking for an item to pair with a value range product, the smallest/cheapest was also chosen, to give a base price.
There may be instances where a value range product is being compared with a much smaller own brand item.