Big food brands are rising prices up to five times faster than supermarket branded goods, with the cost of some consumer staples rising 33% last year.
Buyers are grappling with a cost of living crisis, with headline inflation currently at 9.1%. However, the cost of many consumer favorites has risen much faster, according to a new analysis.
Danish butter brand Lurpak was among the biggest risers. According to analyst Trolley.co.uk, a 500g tub of butter rose 33% to £4.50 from June last year, more than three times the rate of inflation. This week supermarket Asda began attaching security tags to jars of butter as prices hit record highs. A one-kilogram packet of spreadable butter is currently selling for £9 at online retailer Ocado.
Rising dairy and oil costs have been blamed for the price hike. However, supermarkets have been raising prices much more slowly on their in-house ranges. Own-brand salted butter at Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco have risen 28%, 18% and 18% respectively in the past year, well below Lurpak’s 33% jump.
Butter wasn’t the only kitchen staple to rise sharply. The price of Happy Eggs large free-range six-pack eggs has risen 12pc to £1.91, according to Trolley. Meanwhile, a pack of six own-brand eggs at Waitrose remained the same at £1.
A 400g packet of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise jumped 33% last year to £2, compared to a 7% increase for 500g of Asda Real Mayonnaise, which costs 75p. Elsewhere, a two-litre bottle of Irn Bru rose 20% to £1.50, but Asda’s own brand ‘Iron Brew’ rose just 15%, to 60p.
Rocio Concha, from consumer group Which?, called on big brands to better protect their customers from the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. She said: “Supermarkets and manufacturers should provide clear unit prices so people can easily compare items. Budget ranges should also be more widely available in stores so consumers don’t have to pay too much for everyday necessities.
Video: The cost of supermarket staples is now over £10 (Wales Online)
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Young families buying big brand items have also suffered steep price increases. A six-pack of Pampers ‘baby-dry’ nappies jumped 23 pieces to £12, while a range of alternative nappies at Aldi rose just 5 pieces to £3.27. Meanwhile, children’s medicine Calpol rose 19% to £3.40, even as Morrisons’ own brand of junior paracetamol remained stable at £2.
Martyn James, a consumer rights campaigner, urged consumers to shop around. “There are nasty surprises lurking in the aisles, and big brands are naive at best about the impact of price on their customers. Brand loyalty is one thing, but if you have an overpriced product, consumers will turn to supermarket own brands. As soon as you get used to not using Lurpak, you will change your habits.
Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium, a trade body, said the outbreak of war in Ukraine had caused costs to soar. “Food prices are going up, along with energy costs and supply chain costs,” he said.
UK households are under pressure on all fronts, with rising energy, mortgage and food bills. According to market research firm Kantar, the average shopper will spend £380 more on groceries alone this year.
However, which one? found that the average household could save £542 a year by switching brands from the ‘big four’ supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – to rival ranges from discounters like Aldi and Lidl. Aldi was the cheapest supermarket in June, based on a typical grocery basket, with shoppers paying an average of 15% more at the big four.
Arla Foods, owner of Lurpak, said prices for “feed, fertilizer and fuel that farmers need to produce milk” had risen significantly in recent months. Noble Foods, makers of Happy Eggs, said retailers were responsible for setting the prices of its products.
AG Barr, owner of the Irn Bru brand, said it had raised prices to reflect rising costs in its own supply chain, but had no control over what retailers charge shoppers . Johnson & Johnson, owner of Calpol, said: “The prices of our products reflect a wide range of factors, including costs and ongoing investments.”
Procter & Gamble, the maker of Pampers, and Hellmann’s owner, Unilever, did not respond to requests for comment.
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