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Supermarket value ranges soar in price with milk and cheese 20% more expensive

A customer shops for milk inside a Sainsbury's supermarket in east London on February 20, 2023. - British retail sales rebounded surprisingly in January on falling fuel costs and discounting by online and physical stores, official data showed Friday. At the same time, food sales dropped 0.5 percent, the ONS said, following large price rises over the past year. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
The price of milk went up by 26.1% on average across all eight supermarkets. Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty (DANIEL LEAL via Getty Images)

Price increases for supermarket value foods have outstripped branded and premium own brands year on year, hitting shoppers trying to save money amid the cost of living crisis.

Supermarket value ranges have gone up by 21.6% in January compared to the same month the year before while branded goods went up by 13.2%, according to consumer group Which?

Supermarket food and drink went up by 15.9% overall.

Muesli went from £1.20 to £2.25 at Sainsbury's (SBRY.L), up 87.5%, tins of sliced carrots went from 20p to 33p (63%) at Tesco (TSCO.L) and pork sausages went from 80p to £1.27 (58.2%) at Asda.

Different categories of foods, butter and spreads experienced price increases far above inflation, rising by 29.9% in January. Milk went up by 26.1% on average across eight supermarkets.

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Overall inflation eased slightly to 10.1% in January, although food inflation remained high at 16.7%.

Cheese went up by 23.8% overall according to Which?’s inflation tracker, however, some individual examples surged by as much as 96.6%. Cheese including types of value Cheddar, Red Leicester and cream cheese also made up a third of the items on Which?’s list of budget groceries with the highest inflation.

Read more: Tesco Clubcard non-members made to pay higher prices for most products including phone contracts

Sue Davies, Which? head of food policy, said: “It’s clear that food costs have soared in recent months, but our inflation tracker shows how households relying on supermarket value ranges are being hit the hardest.

“Supermarkets need to act and Which? is calling for them to ensure everyone has easy access to basic, affordable food ranges at a store near them, particularly in areas where people are most in need.

“Supermarkets must also do more to ensure transparent pricing enables people to easily work out which products offer the best value and target their promotions to support people who are really struggling.”

While the discounters remain generally cheaper than rivals, they are still passing costs on to customers.

The consumer body’s tracker shows prices were up 23.6% year-on year at Lidl and 22.5% at Aldi in January, compared with 10.4% at Ocado (OCDO.L), 13.2% at Sainsbury’s, 13.6% at Tesco, 14.4% at Morrisons, 15.2% at Waitrose and 16.8% at Asda.

An Asda spokesperson said: “We’re working hard to keep prices in check for customers despite global inflationary pressures and we remain the lowest-priced major supermarket — a position recognised by Which? in their regular monthly basket comparison which has named Asda as the cheapest supermarket for a big shop every month for the last three years.”

Which? said that while basic ranges will still generally offer lower prices, people relying on the cheapest food at the supermarket are being hit disproportionately by inflation compared to those who buy premium or branded foods.

Read more: Grocery bills jump by £788 as food prices hit record high

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: “With costs going up, we are working hard to keep prices low. Last year we announced that we would invest over £550m by March 2023 into lowering prices as part of our goal to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s.

“We're committed to doing everything we can to support customers with the rising cost of living. Through initiatives such as our Aldi Price Match campaign, Price Lock and My Nectar Prices, customers can find low prices on the products they buy most often both in stores and online — including: biscuits, cheese, water, cereals and yoghurts.

Which?'s tracker analysed inflation on more than 25,000 food and drink products at eight major supermarkets — Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose — to see how everyday product prices are being affected.

An Aldi spokesperson said: “We are working hard to shield shoppers from industry-wide inflation, and our promise to our customers is that we will always provide the lowest grocery prices in Britain. That’s why Which? named us as the cheapest supermarket in 2022 and why it has again confirmed that we were the lowest-priced in January 2023 as well.”

Watch: Food inflation 'hit record high' led by fresh produce

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