Christmas cookies

Supermarkets have ramped up the price of own-label Christmas biscuits as the butter shortage continues to bite.

All five of the biggest supermarkets have increased shelf prices on festive lines compared to last year [Brand View w/e 29 November 2017], with shortbread and gingerbread both major victims.

Among the yuletide products hit by year-on-year price rises are Waitrose’s Christmas Choc Shortcake Selection (585g), up to £5 from last year’s £4 promotional price, and Tesco’s Novelty Shortbread Tin (250g), now 20% more expensive at £5.

Asda’s 450g Christmas Milk Dark & White Chocolate Biscuit Collection is up 33% to £4, while Sainsbury’s 600g Scottish Shortbread Selection is up 20% to £6, and Morrisons has increased the price of its own label Gingerbread Man by 23% to 80p.

This follows price hikes across standard own-label biscuits over the past year, with a 400g pack of custard creams now 5.4% more expensive at 58p on average, while a 200g pack of ginger nuts is up 7.1% to 42p and a 200g pack of fig rolls is up 12.4% to 45p.

Commenting on the increases, Waitrose insisted its prices were still “competitive”, while Sainsbury’s said the cost of individual products was “determined by a number of factors, and prices can fluctuate as a consequence”.

A source at a premium biscuit maker told The Grocer the price rises were “inevitable given the cost of butter and other commodities”.

In October, The Grocer reported biscuit makers were facing a massive rise in costs as a result of a surge in butter prices – the result of a shortage caused by low milk fat supplies across the EU, plus high consumer demand.

However, the FDF this week said it had seen butter prices “fall back slightly”, which would suggest the supply situation is starting to ease.