Staple foods like rice, spaghetti, baked beans and tea bags can cost more than three times as much if budget versions are unavailable, according to a study.
Watchdog Which? has called on supermarkets to ensure they stock value ranges across all outlets after discovering how much more consumers are paying when cheaper versions are not available – which it said was often the experience of those who have to rely on local convenience stores.
In the worst example, Which? found shoppers could be faced with having to pay 246% more for Asda’s standard own-brand Easy Cook Long Grain White Rice (1kg) at £1.80 than the 1kg Just Essentials 52p option.
If no own-brand options were available, Ben’s Original Long Grain Rice (1kg) was £4.85 – 833% more than the budget range version.
At a Tesco store, where the budget 52p Grower’s Harvest Long Grain Rice (1kg) was unavailable, shoppers had to pay £1.25 for the supermarket’s own-brand Easy Cook Long Grain Rice (1kg) – or 140% more.
Which? found Ben’s Original Long Grain Rice (1kg) at £5.25 at Tesco was 910% more than the budget range version.
Which? found the same price differences at Sainsbury’s as at Tesco, and also found that Hubbard’s Foodstore Spaghetti (1kg) at Sainsbury’s was 56p while the standard own-brand alternative Sainsbury’s Quick Cook Spaghetti (500g) was 75p, an increase of 168% when comparing the price per 100g.
Meanwhile, branded Napolina Spaghetti (1kg) was £2.50 – 346% more than the budget version.
At Morrisons, budget Savers Baked Beans (410g) were 27p but standard own-brand Morrisons Baked Beans (410g) were 48p – 78% more.
Heinz Baked Beans (415g) were £1.39, a gram for gram increase of 396%.
At Tesco, Which? found budget Stockwell & Co 80 Tea Bags (200g) were 78p, while the standard own-brand Tesco 80 Teabags (250g) were £1.10 – 41% more.
Which? acknowledged there were likely to be differences in quality and ingredients between the different ranges of products.
But it said shoppers who rely on supermarket convenience stores were likely to have a more limited choice than those who shop online or in larger stores.
Previous Which? research found essential budget line were hardly ever sold in supermarket convenience stores.
Which?’s inflation tracker shows that the overall annual rate of grocery inflation slowed to 12.5% in August, the lowest figure recorded since September 2022 and a considerable fall from the high of 17.2% earlier this year.
Morrisons has started to stock 10 budget range items in 500 of its Daily stores and said 30 more will follow.
Tesco has also vowed to swap branded goods with cheaper branded or own-brand alternatives in Express stores.
Sue Davies, Which?’s head of food policy, said: “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.
“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.”
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