/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Supermarkets can BOGOF with their confusing fruit pricing

Summer’s come around, and with it lots of cheap deals on things like strawberries, mangoes, and other refreshing summer fruits. But why are supermarkets still making it tricky for us to work out which are best value?

I’m trying (reasonably unsuccessfully) to lose weight at the moment. One of the key things I’ve tried to do is avoid crisps, chocolate and various other calorie-packed treats, and spend more time browsing the fruit and veg aisle to see if I can pick up something healthier.

My main gripe is that many of the healthy snacks I want to buy are almost impossible to compare in terms of price. Take grapes, strawberries or raspberries, for instance – nature’s sweets – easy snacks which have the added bonus that I can share them around the office and show everyone how virtuous I’m being.

They’re sold in pre-packaged tubs and often discounted at two for £4, or two for £3 if I’m lucky. The problem I have with this is that they’re so rarely not on discount that I have no idea how much they’re supposed to cost. Am I getting a bargain, or not? And if I go to a different supermarket, how do I know which one’s cheaper?

Packs, punnets and price

I was quite pleased when our Which? researchers had a quick nose into some supermarket’s fruit sections and found that it’s not just me who is easily confused by pricing. Some of our researchers compared the prices of whole mangos with sliced mango in supermarkets – not the easiest task, as they’re often priced completely differently.

In Tesco, individual mangoes were priced at 88p each, whereas packaged mango chunks were 67p per 100g. Similarly, in Waitrose, mangoes were priced per item (with a pack of two costing £1.25), while mango chunks were marked at 99.5p per 100g.

They found similar difficulties when comparing a punnet of plums with a pack of plums. In Asda, a 400g punnet was priced at £2.50 per kg, while a pack of six were priced at 25p per plum.

A case of sour grapes?

Some people might say ‘OK, but surely you could work it out?’ Well actually – no. In some situations I could – if I were given the weight of my grapes in all instances, or if I carried a pair of scales with me, I could work out how much per 100g each punnet should cost.

The problem here is that although some items are priced per 100g, others are priced ‘per pack’ or ‘per item’. It would be a hundred times simpler if everything used the same unit for the unit price (as well as the actual price you pay for the product). It might also mean that when we go into a shop and see a special offer we can work out if it’s a genuine bargain.

But supermarkets aren’t required to give the unit price for special offers at all. Two punnets of grapes for £4 might be a great deal, but in order to compare it to the cost of buying grapes loose, I need to know how much each costs per Kg.

We’re campaigning at the moment for clearer unit pricing on food, and trying to persuade the supermarkets that this quick and simple change will make the world of difference to consumers. It certainly will to me, and I hope it will to you too! If you want to support us, please sign our unit pricing pledge, letting us know which supermarket you use most regularly, and help us spread the word.

Working out unit pricing is not rocket science, so let’s get supermarkets making it far more prominent, using consistent units and providing it on special offers. That way we will save time in the supermarket and money at the till.

Comments
Profile photo of brat673
Member

We are the consumers and voters. We should be listened to and not the companies. Please comment on this aspect?

Member
Chris Jones says:
13 July 2013

Sainsbury do not have scales anymore, making it impossible to compare prices of packaged and unpackaged fruit and vegetables.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Are you 100% sure of that? I have always been able to use scales in Sainsbury’s.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
15 July 2013

Hi Chris ;In my Sainsburys they have two scales though they are not placed in good locations 1 near Apples&Bananas instead its close to prepacked soft fruit.The other one by the vegetables again by the prepacked.I used them today i asked where they were as i had never noticed them before.

Profile photo of brat673
Member

This bogoff discriminates against the less well off, single pensioners who may not be able to afford double the quantity or use it before it goes off. It should be banned.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
15 July 2013

Aldi may have got Best Supermarket but fruit and veg labeling very confusing e.g.4 Baking potatoes at 99p per pack 225grames each potato 24p + it says nothing about per Kilo or lb nothing.Where as a 2.5Kg pack of potatoes cost £2.39p.Prices of potatoes have steadily increased almost every week they go up in price both sainsbury&Aldi.Unfortunately our open air local market only has 1 fruit&veg stall and they not very competitive but still useful as one can buy small amounts not big prepacks
of e.g.onions.

Profile photo of willow
Member

Tesco at the weekend……’Value’ pack of bananas £1.15 When I finally found some scales (certainly not placed in an accessible or clearly obvious position) they revealed the pack weighed 1.2 kg which equates to 96p/ kilo. Meanwhile ‘loose’ (and presumably not ‘value’) bananas were 68p/kilo, so the ‘value’ bananas were 41% more expensive.

Meanwhile at Aldi (my preferred supermarket) bananas have been 68p per kilo for months. I think I’m reasonably discerning but I can’t taste any difference between bananas costing 68p/kilo or those costing much, much more.

.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
15 July 2013

Tesco is not a cheap supermarket as it once was many years ago.The only thing i dislike about Aldi Bananas is its pricing as you say 68p per kilo but a 3pk confuses many customers you have to move the decimal point to determine the price.Large packs are not the choice of the elderly;singles ;those who have to watch every penny that is why which campaign to price it right is a good one for everyone to back regardless of status.

Member
Malc.Moore says:
2 August 2013

1st time i noticed in Aldi Supermarket of the year? Granny smiths Apples priced 19.9 per Apple no mention how much per Kg as every other supermarket does.They sell only prepacked i prefer to buy loose as in Sainsbury @£2 per Kg.Simple although to-days sainsbury basics Apples @£1.30p they were £1.00 per Kg for a very longtime but over the last few weeks the prices have steadily gone up 30p its almost a weekly price increase they must think customers are stupid not to notice and the Quality they are 2nd class Jonagold Apples i found a label in box saying Class 2 Apples.It appears apples are picked before they have reached a good size or they have reduced the average sizes of eating Apples.

Profile photo of andyr21
Member

I hope I’m not repeating previous comments. Recently I found that all our are local supermarkets are pricing larger fruit individually, e.g Four apples for £1.60, they kindly state that works out as 40p each, but no mention of price per kilo. Luckily our local farm shop, which has its own orchards, sells
bags of apples by weight. I thought everything was meant to have the price per KG. Even some meat and fish are sold without this .

Member
Malc.Moore says:
26 September 2013

A while ago i had a response from Aldi about fruit pricing they told me they plan to standardize pricing in line with other Supermarkets.One wonders how long it will take them 5;6;8;10 years???. They like other Supermarkets are so quick to increase food prices meanwhile customers are baffled by The ALDI pricing system. Which you gave Aldi Supermarket of the year perhaps they will give you an answer??. When i e-mailed customer services on another matter the response was please phone 0845 +++++ naturally i just did not i never phone 0845 numbers especially when its for a suggestion to sell an item and ask what size one of Aldi products is.

Member
Jane Smith says:
8 July 2017

Here we are in summer 2017 and all supermarkets – who claimed in 2012 in response to Which?’s campaign, to be adopting proper pricing by weight – have changed to pricing fruit by the piece. This is the behaviour of a cartel not of a group of businesses competing with each other. Where is the government regulator when you need them?