Customers paying more for branded staple foods, warns Which?

Shoppers may have to pay around three times more for staple foods like rice, baked beans and tea bags if budget ranges are unavailable.

According a Which? analysis of the prices of almost 26,000 items at eight supermarkets, in many convenience stores budget ranges are unavailable and customers who rely on them in smaller shops are forced to pay more.

In Asda, Which? found there was a 246 per cent price difference between budget range rice and Asda’s standard own brand. There was an increase of 833 per cent between the Asda budget rice and a comparable branded alternative.

Which? found similar price difference at Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Branded rice was 910 per cent more expensive than Sainsbury’s budget rice.

At Morrisons, Which? found that budget baked beans cost 27p while Morrison’s own brand beans were 48p, an increase of 78 per cent more. A comparable tin of branded baked beans was almost 400 per cent more than the budget version.

Which? said that there may be differenced in quality and ingredients between the different ranges of products.

The report argues that customers should be able to choose which product suits their needs and are often unable to do so if they rely on convenience stores. Which? Added that supermarkets may charge higher prices for the same products at convenience stores compared to larger ones which exacerbates the problem.

“As millions struggle with increased food prices and other high household bills, it’s staggering that shoppers face paying over three times more for items if they can’t get to a larger supermarket,” said Sue Davis, head of food policy at Which?.

“Which? is calling on all major supermarkets to ensure expensive convenience stores are stocked with a range of essential budget ranges so that hard-pressed customers can afford important staple foods to feed themselves and their loved ones healthily.”

Responding to the findings, a spokesperson for Morrisons said: “This is an unprecedented period of inflation and we are working hard to keep prices down and competitive for our customers while maintaining high standards and availability in all our stores.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We are acutely aware of the pressures facing millions of households right now and our number one priority continues to be doing all we can to keep prices low for our customers.”

In August, Tesco announced it would swap branded items for cheaper alternatives in its express stores to help customers with the cost-of-living crisis.

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