Tesco’s low-price offensive against discounters in the Irish Republic has turned nasty, with it and Lidl trading blows in public over product quality. 

Cash Savers, Tesco’s new amber and black, low price proposition, was launched with a media flourish last week as the retailer attempted to reclaim some of the ground lost to the discounters in the Republic. 

Lidl immediately hit back with its own advertising campaign, claiming the new Tesco range might match it on prices, but it did not match it on quality.

In a series of ads in the Irish national newspapers, headlined ‘Cash Savers or Trash Savers?’, Lidl questioned the quality of particular Cash Savers products. 

A pack of 10 cheese singles, costing 81c, contained only 11% cheese at Tesco, it claimed, while the Lidl brand, selling at 79c, contained 52%. It contended that the Cash Savers yoghurt, selling at 98 cents, had a fruit content of just 2.5%, while the content of the same-priced Lidl brand was 12%. Lidl’s conserves, it continued, contained 50% fruit while the Tesco version, selling at the same price of €1.15, contained 35%. 

Lidl confirmed it was planning several more ads in a similar vein. “The Irish consumer is too well educated to be misled by PR hype without substance,” it said. “Lidl has shown you can save without compromising on quality.”

In response, Tesco described the Lidl ads as “misleading and selective”, claiming its Cash Savers offer was “a huge hit with customers”. It also struck back in kind with its own ad highlighting the difference between two €1.43 roast potato products. The Cash Savers product contained 95% potato while Lidl offered 88%, it claimed. “More than just a Lidl bit, Tesco gives you a lot more choice and quality,” it said.

Meanwhile, the National Consumer Agency was monitoring the Cash Savers initiative “to see if Tesco has genuinely reduced its prices or simply repositioned certain products”, according to NCA chief executive Ann Fitzgerald.