Three of the big four have hiked the price of more than 40% of their budget own-label lines in the past year, The Grocer can reveal.

At Tesco, 43.3%, or 153, of the 353 Everyday Value products available on 11 December 2012 cost more than their equivalent Value lines cost in 2011, while 94 were cheaper []. Hikes included frying steak, up from £2.96 to £5.49 per kg, and a 500g bag of grated cheese, up from £2.18 to £3.

Meanwhile, 137 - or 41% of Sainsbury’s 334 Basics lines were more expensive, while 80 were cheaper. A 610g pack of chicken breast fillets - had risen from £7.41 to £8.33 - and an eight-pack of sausage rolls had gone up from £1 to £1.49.

And although the price of only 67 budget lines from Morrisons could be directly compared in the wake of its switch to M Savers, of those, 36 - or 54% - had risen in price while 13 had fallen.

Only Asda lowered more prices than it put up, with 73 of its 254 Smartprice lines - or 29% - up and 85 down.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s insisted their budget ranges were as popular as ever. “Since its relaunch in April, nearly 80% of our customers have bought from the Everyday Value range,” said a Tesco spokeswoman.

She pointed out that the majority of its Everyday Value lines had stayed the same price or got cheaper, but conceded “rising costs and food inflation mean some products have increased in price slightly”.

Sainsbury’s said it worked hard to keep prices low: “72% of our customers buy Basics and enjoy Sainsbury’s quality at surprising prices, without having to compromise on their values such as Fairtrade,” said a spokesman.

The mults have expanded their budget own-label ranges by more than 20% in the past year to appeal to cash-strapped shoppers.