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Which? Report: Some UK groceries will be 20% more expensive in 2022

It comes after new CPI inflation numbers from the Office for National Statistics showed groceries were up 6.7% in April 2022 from a year earlier

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So what were the which? Food inflation results – and why have some items gone up in price?

Which? found British consumers were paying more than a fifth more than before Covid for some popular items (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

What did which do? Food inflation research found?

In a report published on Saturday (May 21), Which? said it had found evidence of sharp price inflation in some UK food products.

The consumer group said analysis of more than 21,000 food and drink items between December 2021 and February 2022 showed inflation averaged 3.14% compared to the same period two years ago.

However, behind this relatively low number there are huge price increases. Which? said after noting that 265 products had experienced price increases of more than 20%.

These included popular products such as:

  • Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes muesli (500g pack) – up 21.4% at Tesco
  • Asda Own Brand Closed Cup Mushrooms (250g) – up 21.4%
  • Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar (350g) – 21.1% up at Ocado
Supermarkets have restricted most promotional activities during the Covid pandemic (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

When which? Looking at the price changes for each category, it turned out that prices had increased across the board.

Those with the highest inflation included:

  • Carbonated drinks (5.85% more on average)
  • Butter and spreads (4.9%)
  • Energy drinks (4.8%)
  • Milk (4.6%)

At the other end of the scale, the categories with the lowest inflation were:

  • Chocolate (1.4%)
  • Fresh fruit (1.6%)
  • Cookies (1.8%)
  • Vegetables (1.9%)

The supermarkets with the most price inflation were Morrisons (+4.08%), Asda (+3.97%), Tesco (+3.48%) and Aldi (+3.2%).

Some supermarkets have experienced more food price inflation than others due to their supply chain strategies (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Which? pointed out that the reason Morrisons is likely to top the chart is that it owns much of its fresh food supply chain, meaning it can’t switch to cheaper suppliers as easily as other supermarkets.

Reasons given by the consumer group for the overall increase in inflation included: global economic pressures from the post-Covid reopening of economies, resulting supply chain challenges and labor shortages.

What other price changes in supermarkets have caused which? Find?

Analysis of supermarket price inflation by which? also discovered that the practice of “shrinkflation” – in which the size of items is reduced slightly but the price remains the same, meaning consumers pay more for less – was still in action.

Grocery shopping has become more than 3% more expensive since the Covid pandemic, according to Who? (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Some of the most notable examples found were:

  • Nescafé Azera Americano decaffeinated instant coffee – shrunk from 100g to 90g in Tesco in February 2022 but the price remained at £5.49 (11% price increase per 100g)
  • Persil non-bio washing powder – Reduced in 2021 at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons from 40 washes (2.6kg) to 37 washes (1.85kg) but remained the same price
  • Surf Tropical Lily Ylang Ylang washing powder – went from 40 washes (2.6kg) to 39 washes (1.95kg) at Tesco without dropping in price (Unilever said both the Persil and Surf products have been more concentrated formulated)
  • Walker’s Classic variety of chips – went from 24 bags in a multipack to 22 bags in Tesco, Asda and Morrisons in 2021 at the same price

Which? also examined how different price tiers had changed and how the effectiveness of supermarket promotions had changed since the Covid pandemic.

It found that retailer value ranges had risen just 0.2% over the period — although a more recent analysis by NationalWorld suggested average value and private label ranges had risen more sharply in recent months.

Milk is one of the many categories whose prices have increased (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

According to which? Prices of the standard ranges increased by 2.84%, while the highest inflation was recorded in the premium ranges of private labels, which increased by 3.15% over the two years.

If it was promotional activities, which ones? found that the number of promotions in the most popular food and beverage categories had decreased dramatically, with the amount of savings also decreasing in approximately 75% of the categories studied by the organization.

For example, the number of discounts on bottled water fell by 14.7%, while promotional activity for vegetables fell by 11%.

Savings fell the most in the butter and spreads category, where savings fell 3.59%.

Next came vegetables, down 3.45%, while crispy promotions were 2.88% less generous.

What did which do? say about his price inflation research?

Based on his findings, Which? urged supermarkets to do more to help consumers with the current cost of living.

In particular, clear unit prices should be provided to enable consumers to make purchasing decisions more easily.

It also urged retailers to ensure budget items are readily available.

Supermarkets have insisted they are doing whatever it takes to help consumers weather the cost of living crisis (Image: AFP/Getty images)

“Our research shows that staggering price increases are exacerbated by practices such as downsizing and limited availability of all key budget areas,” said Sue Davies, which? Head of Food Policy and Consumer Rights.

“These factors combine to put enormous pressure on household shopping budgets.

“During an unrelenting cost-of-living crisis, consumers should be able to easily select the product that suits them most without worrying about downsizing or the budget ranges of their local stores.”

What have supermarkets said about the which? Report?

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) – a trade body representing most of the UK’s major supermarkets – said retailers were doing “whatever they can to keep prices down and add value to consumers”.

“Rising inflation is an ongoing concern for both consumers and retailers,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC.

“Global prices for many foods have reached record highs in recent months, pushing up prices for consumers.

“Other price pressures are increased energy, transportation and labor costs, all of which are being exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine.”

Tesco, which is not represented by the BRC, said it was “committed to offering excellent value for money” and highlighted its various offerings, including its ‘low everyday prices’ strategy for basic groceries and club card prices.

https://www.nationalworld.com/lifestyle/money/cost-of-living-crisis-why-food-prices-up-2022-which-supermarket-inflation-3703767 Which? Report: Some UK groceries will be 20% more expensive in 2022

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