Asda will put its lowest-price food ranges in all its stores, it announced on Monday, after poverty campaigner Jack Monroe criticised British supermarkets for cutting back their budget ranges.
With UK consumer price inflation forecast to peak at around 7.25% in April, and interest rates and taxes also rising, Britons are facing the worst squeeze on their disposable incomes for 30 years, according to the Bank of England.
Monroe has complained that Britain’s supermarkets have been reducing the number of products in their lowest price ranges, and she also wants the ranges to be more widely available.
Monroe came to national prominence through a blog setting out her challenge to feed her young son on a food budget of £10 ($13.50) a week.
More Value Choices
Asda, Britain’s third-largest supermarket group behind Tesco and Sainsbury’s, announced that it would stock its full Smart Price and Farm Stores ranges in all of its 581 food stores and online, ‘to provide customers on a budget with more value choices.’
The group currently stocks 150 Smart Price and Farm Stores products in 300 stores and will introduce all 200 products in these value ranges to all food stores by 1 March.
“We want to help our customers’ budgets stretch further, and have taken on board the comments about the availability of our Smart Price range made by Jack Monroe,” said Meg Farren, chief customer officer, Asda.
Last month Monroe brought media attention to the way that Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) measures food prices.
She argued that, in attempting to capture a representative price for a given item – say a tin of baked beans – the ONS misses out on big price moves in the cheapest tins, which tend to be bought by the poorest households.
The ONS has acknowledged the limitations of its attempts to measure consumer prices, and it plans changes.
Asda has been owned since last February by Mohsin and Zuber Issa and private-equity company TDR Capital.