Sainsburys fruit veg aisle Aldi price match

Sainsbury’s currently matches over 100 fresh products to Aldi prices

The “cat and mouse games” supermarkets played as part of price match campaigns against the discounters have “disappeared” as inflationary pressures have forced all grocers to ramp up fruit & veg prices in recent months.

Hikes in production costs have seen Aldi push through several increases to fruit & veg prices, data from private label consultancy IPLC has revealed.

Since the start of September, Aldi has raised the prices of items including cucumber (59p to 69p), sweetcorn (95p to £1.19), baking potatoes (45p to 57p), easy peelers (75p to 89p), and cauliflower (85p to 95p), shows IPLC data.

This has been reflected in rising prices across supermarket price matching campaigns.

From 1 September to 18 October, 22 of the 45 fresh produce items featured in Sainsbury’s Aldi Price Match campaign increased in price, while only two were down.

Meanwhile, Tesco raised the prices for 38 fresh produce items – 50% of the total 76 in included in its Aldi’s Price Match campaign – in the same time period. Only three items have gone down in price.

Paul Stainton, UK partner at IPLC, said the moves were an indication retailers “simply cannot absorb the huge cost increases currently experienced”.

Supermarkets are also raising prices independently of Aldi and taking products out of price match, with the expectation the discounter will soon follow suit.

Some of the most significant price increases observed across all three retailers since the beginning of September include: cucumber (59p to 69p), sweetcorn (95p to £1.19), baking potatoes (45p to 57p), easy peelers (75p to 89p), and cauliflower (85p to 95p), according to IPLC data.

“It appears the ‘cat and mouse’ games previously played with price match products have disappeared, as each retailer is now confident the other will follow a price increase within days,” said Stainton.

Aldi said it remained the lowest-priced supermarket in the UK, and was 17% cheaper than traditional supermarkets in Which? data.

Kantar data shows Aldi’s sales grew 20.7% in the 12 weeks to 2 October.

“I think there is some mileage in the argument around the price match scheme changing for inflationary pressure, especially at Sainsbury’s,” said Grocery Insight CEO Steve Dresser.

“I remain surprised Sainsbury’s have committed to categories that are suffering huge inflation, such as chicken.

“It’s impressive they have done so given the pressure on cost. But [Aldi Price Match] remains vital to customers.”

Sainsbury’s matches Aldi prices on more than 200 products, with over 100 being fresh products (including fruit & veg, meat and chilled).

The supermarket said it was “acutely aware of the rising cost of living and relentlessly focused on keeping prices low on the products customers buy most often” including fresh produce.

“We are working closely with suppliers and farmers to help them navigate inflationary pressures and to ensure we can maintain strong availability, providing financial support and working capital where really needed,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

Meanwhile, Tesco said it was “keeping a laser focus on the cost of the weekly shop” as household budgets remained under increasing pressure. Earlier this month, it announced a new price lock commitment, freezing the prices of more than a thousand everyday products until 2023.

“Whether it’s price matching Aldi on the basics, freezing the price of more than a thousand household staples until 2023, or offering exclusive deals and rewards through thousands of Clubcard Prices – we’re more committed than ever to providing our customers with great value,” a Tesco spokesman said.

Last week, the Office for National Statistics said that food inflation rose by 14.5% annually in September 2022, the highest on record. At the same time, vegetable consumption in the UK has fallen by 7.5% over the past year as consumers react to the cost of living crisis.