Value Supermarket Ranges - How Do Prices Compare - I investigate...




With many UK residents now financially struggling due to the increase in food and energy prices, and with the interest rate now being pushed up to 1%, pushing those on variable mortgages potentially even further into the red, I've taken a look to see if the "value" range products from supermarkets do return much of a saving, and if so, are you sacrificing quality, for quantity?


Coincidentally, I started investigating this subject on the day a cabinet minister was accused of being out of touch after suggesting that consumers facing the most significant rise in shop prices in more than a decade should buy "value brands".

The 2.7% year-on-year increase in prices, reported by the British Retail Consortium-NielsenIQ price index, was the highest since September 2011 and up from 2.1% in March.


George Eustice, the environment secretary, said that it would "undoubtedly put a pressure on household budgets" already facing soaring energy bills.


He told Sky News: "Generally speaking, what people find is by going for some of the value brands rather than own-branded products - they can actually contain and manage their household budget."


Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden, responded, "This is woefully out of touch from a government with no solution to the cost of living crisis facing working people.


"People are seeing their wages fall, fuel and food costs rise, and families are worried about how to make ends meet."


And I would have to agree; it's pretty unhelpful to suggest that those really struggling may be able to turn their finances around by swapping their own brand food for value brands! The savings are there, yes, and with many supermarkets now actively cutting prices on food products, with Morrisons reducing the cost of some 500 products recently, and Asda saying it will spend £73m to cut or freeze prices on 100 products, there are certainly savings to be made, but long term can you really save enough money to save your budget? No, I doubt you can, but you can certainly use the value brands to stretch your budget, but I suspect it wouldn't be something you would look to switch to for every meal.


So, which value range offers the best value for money? That's hard to answer; there are so many supermarkets, each offering its own range of value products, with its own pricing structure, so comparing like for like isn't easy, but I had a plan!


I decided to buy the ingredients to make a pasta bake from nine of my local supermarkets and compare how the pricing stacked up between them.


I planned to purchase them below:


1x pack of pasta, around 500g

1x pack of minced beef around 500g

1x jar of pasta sauce around 350g, or whichever size the value jar turned out to be

1x smallest pack of cheese available


I wanted to make a decent meal; I didn't want to make one of those; make a meal for 25p per portion posts, where you get a spoonful and are then starving 30 minutes later! I'm a big guy, I have a manly appetite, and frankly, if I get a tiny portion, I will be raiding the fridge later, and that's pointless when it comes to money-saving! I hate those posts where someone eats two spoonfuls, undoes their belt and states they are 'so full' - that's not realistic, or maybe I'm just greedy. Still, either way, this will be a family-sized recipe with decent sized portions that will fill me up, and so very likely you too, and can easily be stretched out with garlic bread etc., if you are super hungry! For this experiment, I decided I could only buy from the supermarket's value or the supermarket's cheapest product range, and then from that, I would work out the price per portion based on a pasta bake made with the following ingredients:


300g of dried pasta

1x pack, as purchased, of minced beef

1x jar, as purchased of pasta sauce

100g of cheese for the pasta bake topping


Based on this recipe making four portions, I could determine the cost per portion from those ingredients.


You could reduce the cost by cutting out the meat, especially important for vegetarians or those needing to lower costs, and add any veggies you have in the fridge or by buying a bag of value frozen veggies to the recipe to bulk it out, or perhaps use the pasta as a base and add a yellow sticker bargain, or look to grab a Too Good To Go bag from a local supermarket and see if you can stretch out the meal that way. Still, I'm assuming this is a minced beef pasta bake for this experiment.


I bought the same ingredients from Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Iceland, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl and M&S - I chose those supermarkets because they were large stores. I am aware that smaller, convenience sized stores would likely not offer the same level of choice as a larger supermarket it wouldn't be a fair comparison for this investigation, so my local Co-op, Nisa and other smaller stores weren't included, but that doesn't mean they haven't got the potential to be able to offer you a value range product to stretch your budget!


So how did I get On?

Morrisons


I managed to find a value brand for each of the four items needed:


500g Minced beef 20% fat - £1.89

440g Jar of Savers pasta sauce - 39p

400g Mature white cheddar - £1.79

500g Savers Pasta - 29p


Total Purchase cost - £4.36

The total cost of meal ingredients - £2.91

Cost per portion based on my recipe rounded up to the nearest whole pence - £0.73 per portion

(Cost without meat £0.25 per portion)

Tesco


I managed to find a value brand for each of the four items needed:


500g Minced beef 20% fat - £1.89

440g Jar Hearty Food Co pasta sauce - 39p

400g Creamfields Mature white cheddar - £1.89

500g Hearty Food Co Pasta - 29p


Total Purchase cost - £4.46

The total cost of meal ingredients - £2.93

Cost per portion based on my recipe rounded up to the nearest whole pence - £0.74 per portion.

(Cost without meat £0.25 per portion)


Asda


I managed to find a value brand for each of the four items needed:


500g Minced beef 20% fat - £1.90

440g Jar Smartprice pasta sauce - 39p

825g Smartprice Mature white cheddar - £3.65

500g Smartprice Pasta - 32p


Total Purchase cost - £6.26

The total cost of meal ingredients - £2.91

Cost per portion based on my recipe rounded up to the nearest whole pence - £0.73 per portion.

(Cost without meat £0.25 per portion)


Iceland


I didn't manage to find a value brand for each of the four items needed; the supermarket had minimal own brand an