Infant formula

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The moves mark an emerging price war, as supermarkets look to cut the price of formula products

Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda have become the latest supermarkets to introduce new cuts to the price of branded baby formula lines, as scrutiny grows over the price of formula products.

The moves mark an emerging price war, sparked in part by Iceland Foods executive chairman Richard Walker last week, after the frozen specialist launched what it claimed was the “cheapest” branded SMA formula product on the market.

On Thursday, Sainsbury’s confirmed selected lines of branded formula, including products from Cow & Gate, Aptamil and SMA, would be included in its latest round of price cuts. Tesco later announced it would also cut the price of the same branded lines. They were joined by Asda on Friday, which confirmed it would cut the price of five formula lines from 9 March. 

All three supermarkets have now matched Iceland’s price of £7.95 on 800g packs of SMA Little Steps first baby formula, which fell from the previous price of £9.75 at all three.

They followed a move on Wednesday by Aldi, which cut the price of its Mamia own-label formula for the second time in the space of week after it moved to undercut Iceland’s price on 28 February.

Aldi has now dropped the price of its Mamia First Infant milk to £8.49 per 900g, which is equivalent to £7.55 for 800g pro rata.

It remains the only own-label formula product available at supermarkets.

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Among some of the other products included in Sainsbury’s price cuts are two packs of 600g Cow & Gate First Baby Milk Formula From Birth Big Pack and Follow on Baby Milk Formula, which will both fall by 50p to £12. Meanwhile, 800g packets of 4 Growing Up Milk Powder by the same brand will fall from £10.50 to £10.25, with Cow & Gate 2 Follow On Baby Milk Formula 800g also dropping to £9.65 from £10.50.

Aptamil First and Follow on products, both two packs of 600g portions, have fallen from £17 to £16. SMA Pro First Baby Milk Liquid Ready To Feed has dropped by 5p to £1 for 200ml. 

Tesco’s price cut applies to a smaller amount of products, but has generally matched those of Sainsbury’s. It includes 1.2kg tubs of Aptamil, which will fall by £1 to £16, with equivalent lines of Cow & Gate to £12 from £12.50. Meanwhile, 800g packets of Cow & Gate 2 follow-on milk have fallen from £10.50 to £9.65.

Asda would decrease the price of its five products by 6.5% on average. Cow & Gate 1 First Baby Milk Formula From Birth Big Pack (1.2kg), would fall by 50p to £12, with the equivalent Follow on Formula also dropping to £12, from £12.25. Aptamil Milk Powder Big Pack and Aptamil Follow On Milk 6-12 Months (both1.2kg) would now cost £16, down from £17. 

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We know families are still finding things tough and we’re working harder than ever to reduce our costs, putting the money back into our customers’ pockets through lower prices on the products they buy most often.”

Aldi’s Mamia range provided parents with “the best-quality products for the early stages of parenting, at an unbeatable price”, said Aldi UK buying MD buying Julie Ashfield.

“We understand that for some parents, infant formula is a necessary part of their weekly shop, and we are committed to offering the lowest prices on all our products.”

Retail Week had first reported that Sainsbury’s would make the price cut, which comes as grocers look to respond to growing scrutiny from regulators and campaigners over the cost of formula products.

In November, a report by the CMA and First Steps Nutrition found that formula prices had increased by as much as 25% on some lines over the past two years of the cost of living crisis. In January, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were among the supermarkets to reduce the price of Aptamil products, after manufacturer Danone dropped the wholesale price following criticism in the wake of the report. 

The regulator kicked off the second stage of its ongoing investigation into formula manufacturers and the market in February, with the launch of a new market study. The report will examine consumer behaviour and understanding of formula products, but also whether regulation and the behaviour of manufacturers creates barriers to access the products. The CMA is set to publish the findings in September.