Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The soaring costs of food

Okay!  The first thing I have to do is be honest that I could not find any old receipts - my spring cleaning must have been more rigorous than usual. So you will just have to trust that I have a relatively good memory for figures and events. This time last year, I was ill. Preparing to go into hospital, I did a big shop for easy to prepare goods. So, how did Saturday's prices compare with those of last year? Well, I can say with absolute certainty the following items are priced the same:

2 x 600g Rice Krispies :  £4.99
6 x 1lt skimmed milk : £2.99
2 x  large sliced loaves: £1.85
4 lt Robinsons orange squash: £2.39 (plus VAT)

What's more I don't recall any increase on any of these since I started my Costco membership in mid 2006 and for which I still pay just under £30 a year. Increases I did notice were:

20 x 1/4lb 100% beef burgers: from £9.99 to £10.59

and my > 1kg tin of coffee was about a pound more than I recall, but that has always fluctuated at around £6.

As for the baked beans, most annoyingly, both my memory and my arithmetic must be out. On Saturday, they were priced at: 
24 x 420g Branston Baked bean tins: £6.39 (26.625p a tin) roughly, although not robustly, the same as in my "Beans means profits" post.

Irrespective of my failings as a price comparison service, (and the fact that I need to add the cost of membership to my basket - at approx 30 items, nine times a year that's around 11p per tray of 24 baked beans or 1/2 pence per tin) my little survey would appear to support my theory: UK retail prices for grocery items are being massaged. There is no way that Morrisons or anyone else for that matter can claim that 31p for a 420g tin of Branston beans is half price, when I am clearly paying under 30p per tin and have been since 2006. Certain in my mind is that Costco won't be selling them at a loss.

This post has been slow to blog because my mind has been racing for the past couple of days. I intend to find out market size and compare prices by retailer so as to go some way towards finding out precisely how much profit these price differences are costing households living on basics. I have already found a Telegraph article from March 2006 stating that Branston beans were 41p a tin in Asda back then.

I think I shall concentrate my research on milk, bread and baked beans – all fairly staple items. Odd, I am reminded of Marie Antoinette suggesting that peasants eat cake... and I have a funny feeling that in my quest I am likely to find also that “value” is the new “premium”. 

Posted @ 06:07:45 on 16 June 2009
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