Smart Price corned beef by Asda

Asda has announced it will almost double the number of stores stocking its budget range products, as it fights back against criticism it has not been doing enough to stop inflation hitting customers.

The retailer, which is also facing a squeeze from the discounters and Tesco with its Clubcard Prices strategy, said it was reacting to rising concerns over inflation and energy prices.

It said from 1 March it would stock its full Smart Price and Farm Stores ranges in all 581 of its food stores, as well as online.

That compared with 150 Smart Price and 50 Farm Stores products currently sold in 300 stores.

Asda has already begun to make changes online with 100 Smart Price and Farm Stores products added to its website this week, increasing the total online range to 187 products. It said this would rise to 200 by the end of February.

Asda Smart Price

Asda’s move follows an attack on the supermarket and others by food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, who claimed supermarket price increases had mainly hit the poorest customers because budget products had been more affected.

She criticised Asda for discontinuing Smart Price products, such as a 1kg bag of rice sold online at 45p, with the cheapest replacement costing a minimum of £1.20.

Exclusive research for The Grocer by Assosia found prices were 56% higher than a year ago for a basket of the cheapest products highlighted by Monroe.

However, Asda claimed today’s announcement would help address the concerns of cash-strapped shoppers.

“We want to help our customers’ budgets to stretch further and have taken on board the comments about the availability of our Smart Price range made by Jack Monroe,” said Asda chief customer officer Meg Farren. 

“We are taking steps to put our full Smart Price and Farm Stores ranges in store and online to make these products as accessible as possible.”