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Bags of potatoes hit by shrinkflation as bad weather impacts supply

Published on The Grocer


Pack sizes of many core potato lines have fallen from 2.5kg to 2kg over the past six months without any decrease in price.
Potatoes have been hit by shrinkflation following a weather-driven tightening of supply.Pack sizes of many core potato lines have fallen from 2.5kg to 2kg over the past six months, without any decrease in price, across the traditional big four and Aldi. It means prices have risen by up to 43.2% per kilo, according to analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer.Maris piper potatoes have been most affected. At Tesco and Sainsbury’s, 2.5kg bags were delisted in December in favour of 2kg bags. Between then and now, prices rose from £1.70 to £1.89 and £1.90 per pack respectively, equating to increases of 39% and 39.7% per kilo.Morrisons also shrunk maris piper packs in November. Since then, prices have risen by 43.2% per kilo, from 66p to 94.5p.Asda discontinued its 2.5kg bags in the week beginning 18 March. Since then, the price of its maris piper line has risen by 26.4% per kilo, while other core lines rose by up to 16.6%.Aldi also scrapped the larger bags at the start of the year. The price per kilo of its maris piper line has since risen by 39%, while standard potatoes are up 35% and baking potatoes are up by 25%.“Whilst shrinkflation used to be associated mainly with well-known brands, it is now also a tactic for some retailers on their private label products,” said Paul Stainton, partner at brand specialists IPLC. ”Rising costs have made it inevitable in certain cases, but the consumer is kept in the dark when these changes happen, eventually realising they are getting less product at the same, or higher, price.”Sainsbury’s displayed a sign in store for four weeks informing customers of the pack reduction to help potatoes “go further”.NFU potato and policy chair Tim Rooke warned in February that “there could potentially be a shortage by the end of the season”.He explained that supply issues could be traced back as far as the drought in the summer of 2022 and current poor weather was impacting quality meaning many crops “aren’t good enough to go into a bag to be put in Tesco”.

One industry source suggested that the price per kilo had risen in the supermarkets as farmers recovered costs from smaller crops.

“Yields of UK potato crops have been impacted by challenging and wet growing conditions,” said Harvir Dhillon, economist at the BRC. “Nonetheless, retailers are continuing to keep prices affordable and are taking the necessary measures to minimise any impact on their consumers.”

The Grocer approached all retailers mentioned for comment.

Published on The Grocer, 4th April 2024