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7 Mar 2022

Which groceries have inflation-busting price rises?

Some types of food and drink are rising much more sharply in price than others
Customer checking prices in supermarket

The prices of everyday groceries are rising fast - but headline inflation figures only tell part of the story.

Overall inflation currently stands at 5.5%, and the latest figures from market analyst Kantar show grocery price inflation was 4.3% in February. But exactly how groceries are being affected is more complex than these catch-all headline figures.

Which? dug into six different types of popular groceries to find out how much they had risen in price and which ones had inflation-busting price rises.

Which groceries have been hit the hardest?

Inflation is rising due to a combination of factors: pent-up demand as economies have restarted following pandemic lockdowns, supply issues and spiralling gas prices to name just a few. There are also some causes more specific to the grocery sector, such as labour shortages, freight costs and other administrative burdens.

Our analysis looked at six popular categories of groceries - chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks, fruit, meat and vegetables - on sale at eight major UK supermarkets (Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose) in Jan 2021 and Jan 2022, and compared average prices for each period.

Here's what we found:

Type of groceryNumber of products analysedPrice difference (%)
Fizzy drinks1,9212.99%
*Prices taken from an independent price comparison site and include discounts but not multibuys. Data compared across the four weeks to 24 January in both 2021 and 2022.

The groceries with inflation-busting rises

We found the prices of fizzy drinks were up 2.99% overall. But this average increase masked steeper rises in some products.

For example, one-litre bottles of Asda's own-label soda water, sugar-free Indian tonic water and regular tonic water all climbed from 35p to 60p, a 71% increase. This could be down to last autumn's shortages of CO2, after high energy prices threatened production in the UK.

The average price of crisps rose by 2.85%. But again, there were some standout increases. Two flavours of Pringles - Sizzln Extra Hot Cheese And Chilli Crisps (180g) and Sizzln Kickin Sour Cream Crisps (180g) - doubled in price at Tesco, from £1.50 to £3. However, Tesco said the price of these Pringles was £2 in February.

And many Which? members told us they had spotted sharp increases in the price of meat. We found average prices for raw meat, bacon and sausages rose 1.59% year on year. For example, our data shows Heck Food 97% Gluten-Free Pork Sausages x 6 (400g) at Asda rose from £1.77 to £2.98, a rise of 69%.

Asda said that despite challenges being faced by all retailers, it has maintained the price of these products in line with competitors.

Meanwhile we found smaller increases in the prices of vegetables (1.4%) and fruit (0.47%). But there was good news if you've got a sweet tooth - the price of chocolate actually fell by 3.23% year on year.

Woman checking prices

How supermarkets deal with inflation

Inflation is probably the biggest issue supermarkets currently face.

One supermarket boss who we interviewed in late 2021 told us their budget for some items had risen five-fold over the previous 12 months.

There are various strategies supermarkets can use to deal with inflation: reduced price-matching of rival supermarkets is one; fewer promotions is another. Shrinkflation (reducing pack sizes without cutting the price) is yet another.

But with grocery price inflation at 4.3%, and forecast by many to rise sharply, it's almost inevitable the actual shelf price of groceries will rise too.

In fact, industry title The Grocer reports that Aldi raised the prices of some items in February despite them being included in Tesco's Aldi price-matching scheme. This meant that the discounter was temporarily pricier than Tesco, until the supermarket giant followed suit and raised its own prices to match those of Aldi.

Money-saving tips for your grocery shop

Our experts have complied a list of money-saving tips to help you with the cost of living squeeze.

It includes everything from why shopping at certain stores could cost you hundreds of pounds a year, to why you should should look up and down while you shop, as well as how to find out which supermarket is the cheapest.