SHOPPERS have been hit by 21% price rises at supermarkets at the same time as a drop in discount and budget ranges, an investigation has found.
Research by Which? shows the supermarket products whose prices are rising the fastest – and the items that are shrinking in size.
It comes as inflation has hit a 40-year high of 9%, and families are struggling to cope with a cost of living crisis.
Household energy bills have rocketed by an average of 54%, petrol prices have reached record highs, and grocery prices are rising too. At the same time, favourite deals are disappearing – Tesco is set to ban buy one get one free offers on sugary snacks from the autumn
This week's inflation figures showed that the cost of some household essentials has risen at an astonishing rate.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), margarine costs a staggering 22% more than a year ago, and the price of low fat milk is up 16.1%.
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Consumer experts Which? analysed the price of 21,000 groceries over two years, comparing their prices at eight major supermarkets.
It found that some 265 items were at least 20% more expensive than they were two years ago.
These include household favourites such as Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes, which went up by 21.4% at some stores, and Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese, up by 21..1%.
Which? said fizzy drinks had seen the greatest average price rises, with the typical bottle of pop up 5.9% over the period.
Meanwhile, butters and spreads had gone up an average of 4.9%, energy drinks 4.8%, and milk 4.6%.
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And "shrinkflation" is rife, with many products staying at the same price but reducing in size, Which? said.
Walkers Classic Variety Crisps used to come in multipacks of 24 bags, but this was reduced to 22 bags at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons despite the price staying the same.
Nescafe Azera Americano decaff instant coffee shrank from 100g to 90g at Tesco in February. It kept its £5.49 price tag though – meaning an effective price increase of 11%, said Which?
Out of stock
The consumer champion has also raised concerns about the availability of own-brand and budget ranges in stores.
Its investigation found that own-brand budget ranges were out of stock and unavailable three times as often as other products.
Own-brand cheese was out of stock the most frequently – it was unavailable on 17 days in 2022, compared to just six occasions in 2019.
Sue Davies, head of food policy and consumer rights at Which?, said: "Eye-watering price rises are being exacerbated by practices like shrinkflation and limited availability of all-important budget ranges.
"These factors are combining to put huge pressure on household shopping budgets.
“During an unrelenting cost of living crisis, consumers should be able to easily choose the best value product for them without worrying about shrinkflation or whether their local store stocks budget ranges."
The biggest price increases
Here is the list of 20 of the groceries that have gone up in price the most over the past two years:
- Ocado – Dalston's Fizzy Rhubarb Cans – Was: £3.23 Now: £3.92 Up: 21.5%
- Asda – Southern Style Mini Chicken Breast Fillets 350g – Was: £2.14 Now: £2.60 Up: 21.5%
- Asda – Sunblest Veda Brown Loaf 400g – Was: 89p Now: £1.08 Up: 21.5%
- Tesco – 7 Up Free Sparkling Lemon & Lime Drink 2litre – Was: £1.27 Now: £1.54 Up: 21.5%
- Morrisons – Orange Juice from Concentrate 3x200ml – Was: 80p Now: 97p Up: 21.5%
- Sainsbury's – Warburtons Thin Bagels 6 pack plain – Was: £1.27 Now: £1.55 Up: 21.5%
- Asda – Beef Rump Steak 220-275g – Was: £3.42 Now: £4.15 Up: 21.4%
- Tesco – Ferrero Rocher Chocolate Box 24 pieces – Was £7 Now: £8.50 Up: 21.4%
- Ocado – Alpro Growing Up Soya Drink 1litre – Was: £1.40 Now: £1.70 Up: 21.4%
- Tesco – Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes 500g – Was: £2.57 Now: £3.12 Up: 21.4%
- Asda – Closed Cup Mushrooms 250-300g – Was: 70p Now: 85p Up: 21.4%
- Tesco – Italian Antipasto Salami and Prosciutto Selection 120g – Was: £2 Now: £2.43 Up: 21.4%
- Asda – Old Jamaica Ginger Beer 1.5litre – Was: £1.10 Now: £1.33 Up: 21.4%
- Ocado – Diced Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato 300-400g – Was: £1.04 Now: £1.26 Up: 21.4%
- Ocado – Laverstoke Park Farm Organic Buffalo Mozzarella 125g – Was: £2.31 Now: £2.80 Up: 21.4%
- Asda – Evian Still Water 6x500ml – Was: £2.21 Now: £2.68 Up: 21.3%
- Asda – Irish Semi-Skimmed Milk 3litre – Was: £1.32 Now: £1.60 Up: 21.3%
- Ocado – Robinsons Fruit Shoot No Added Sugar Juiced 6x200ml – Was £2.43 Now: £2.95 Up: 21.3%
- Asda – Braces Luxury Medium White Bread 800g – Was: 99p Now:£1.20 Up: 21.3%
- Asda – Warburtons Soft Brown Sandwich Thins 6 pack – Was: 86p Now:£1.04 Up: 21.3%
It's worth noting that some branded products in this list may be more expensive at other supermarkets – but Which? focused on the price increase over its investigation period.
It compared average prices at eight supermarkets between the start of December 2021 and the end of February 2022, with the same period two years earlier.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are committed to providing great value for our customers, whether it’s promising Low Everyday Prices on 1,600 staples, price matching around 650 basics to Aldi prices, or offering exclusive deals and rewards through thousands of Clubcard Prices.”
A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: "We know that customers are counting every penny right now and we are doing all we can to help them.
“We are relentlessly focused on keeping prices low on the products that our customers buy most often such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy and fresh produce.
“While prices can go both up and down for a variety of reasons, our targeted campaigns such as our Sainsbury’s Quality, Aldi Price Match and Price Lock promise give customers reassurance they don’t need to go anywhere else to get the best deals.”
Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Rising inflation is a continued concern for both consumers and retailers.
"The global price of many food commodities has reached record highs over the last few months, pushing up prices for consumers.
"Other price pressures include increased energy, transport and labour costs, all of which are being exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine.
"Retailers will continue to do all they can to keep prices down and deliver value for their customers by limiting price rises and expanding their value ranges.”
How to cut costs on your supermarket shop
Families who are feeling the pinch, can still take steps to save money on their weekly shop.
Martin Lewis recently urged households to try his "downshift challenge".
Martin said: "The Downshift Challenge is essentially is dropping down a brand level on groceries – for example, finest to branded to own brand to basic.
"If you can't taste a difference stick with the lower level. On average it cuts 30% off bills, so if you only stick with half, that's 15% saved.
"It’s not just food either – you can do it with toiletries and cleaning products."
And one supermarket expert has revealed the sneaky tactics that get you spend more when you shop online.
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