What's going on with Tesco prices?


SOUNDING OFF:A NUMBER of readers have got in touch with us expressing concern at price hikes in Tesco.

First up was Darragh from Rathfarnham. "Practically everything I buy [at Tesco] has gone up in price recently," he says. He cites examples including Listerine mouthwash, Dove shower gel, Gillette Fusion razors, Sanex shower gel, Actimel yogurt drinks, McCain Micro Chips, and Tesco orange juice.

"A lot of the price increases are in the region of 15 per cent," he writes. "At a time when a hard recession is looming, sterling is at an all-time low against the euro, and energy prices are plummeting, surely the last thing Tesco should be doing is increasing its prices by such high margins."

What bugs our reader more than anything else is that "some of the products whose prices have increased only had them 'decreased' a few months ago. When this happened Tesco ran its usual Sunday newspaper ads shouting about the great, new 'long-term' price reductions."

Another "gimmick" which infuriates him "is the placing of 'everyday low price' signs beside an item just after they've increased the price." He gives as an example Tesco orange juice and says a 1.75 litre carton which was increased from €3.89 to €3.99 had an everyday low price sticker on it. Another example was a pack of two Tesco value-range sausage rolls which increased in price by 40 per cent (from 42 cent to 59 cent) and had a sticker placed beside it.

"I'm sure there are plenty more examples," says Darragh.

Another reader gives an example of a side of smoked salmon which has gone up €3 since Christmas last year from €12.99 to €15.99. She says that "putting grocery prices up in the lead-up to Christmas is deplorable, especially given the announcement that VAT in the UK is going down".

It is not only our readers who are giving out. Last week, Retail Intelligence, the weekly electronic newsletter from trade magazine Checkout, carried an item on the same topic. It said it had been alerted to "significant numbers of branded products" which had increased in price in Tesco stores. It said that while some of these products also increased in price in other stores, "the data shows that substantial numbers of high-profile brands have increased . . . in Tesco alone".

The Irish Timesreported on this last week after which Pricewatch came across further increases. Tesco value water had increased from 27c to 35c. Tins of Tesco tuna chunks went from 69c to 99c. Fair Trade bananas increased from €1.19 to €1.49; Tesco's own-brand wheat biscuits were up from €2.66 to €2.88; Tesco fresh sweetened soya milk was up from €1.35 to €1.49; Tesco anti-bacterial kitchen wipes were up from €1.08 to €1.89; and 160 Barry's Gold Blend tea bags increased from €6.19 from €6.49.

A spokesman for Tesco explained some of the price rises. The tuna and kitchen wipes "had all come off long-term promotions" something he said "happens frequently".

The price of bananas from Costa Rica, which is where the store's Fair Trade bananas come from, had increased "due to increased government export duties in Costa Rica".

"The Tesco wheat biscuits were on promotion and have been replaced by Country Barn wheat biscuits at €2.66 . . . Tesco value water increased as a result of increased costs."

He said the soya milk is now at €1.35, while Barry's Tea is now at €6.19; but when we checked the tesco.ie site last Friday, Barry's Tea was priced at €6.49 while the soya milk had a price tag of €1.49. The spokesman said Tesco had "reduced over 9,000 prices and [is] committed to continuing to offer the lowest prices". He cited reductions in such products as Dove soap, Tesco Finest cheddar cheese, Johnston Mooney O'Brien bread, Lavazza coffee, Baxters soups, and a number of fruit and veg offers. These examples are in addition to in-store promotions, he said.