Reckitt Benckiser, the consumer goods giant behind some of the UK’s best-known brands – from Finish dishwasher tablets to Dettol disinfectant – has been accused of ‘deliberate profiteering’ after hiking some of its prices by more than a third.

The FTSE 100 firm, which also makes Calgon washing machine cleaner and Air Wick fresheners, is poised to unveil a profit bonanza this week whilst shoppers struggle to make ends meet.

Reckitt’s annual earnings are forecast to have increased by a fifth to a massive £3.2billion.

The haul comes after Reckitt pushed through big price increases in some of its most popular products.

The cost of Finish dishwasher rinse aid shot up 37 per cent over the past year, from £3.05p for a 400ml bottle to £4.17.

Similarly, Dettol antibacterial wipes have risen in price by 32 per cent, from £2 for a 72-pack to £2.63.

And Calgon washing machine water softener gel increased 31 per cent to £7.50, according to data from market research firm Assosia.

Couples are also being hit by a cost-of-loving crisis. A 12-pack of Reckitt’s Durex Thin Feel condoms has risen to £11 – 10 per cent higher than a year ago.

Such increases have attracted accusations of ‘greedflation’ – where firms use the cost-of-living crisis as a cover for hiking prices more than necessary.

Last month, The Mail on Sunday reported on hefty price rises from other consumer goods giants, such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Heinz.

Critics said it was ‘hard to believe’ that the price rises were justified and argued that firms ‘need to be careful’ how much they impact on consumers.

Ahead of Reckitt’s financial update on Wednesday, consumer champion Baroness Ros Altmann said the consumer giant appeared guilty of ‘deliberate profiteering’.

She added: ‘These price increases in standard basic household essentials are staggering.

‘It is hard to understand why such sharp rises are needed and the companies should be required to explain how this can be justified, other than to help shareholders and management at the expense of customers.

Without a clear explanation for these eye-watering rises, many might conclude this looks like deliberate profiteering.’

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said the price rises, against the backdrop of Reckitt’s bumper profits, are ‘disappointing’ during the consumer squeeze.

He added: ‘I struggle to believe that under-lying costs of manufacture of a range of Reckitt Benckiser household brands have risen by the levels being seen in the shelf prices of their products.

‘These big corporations need to be careful how they’re behaving, as consumers can easily move their spending to unbranded, yet similarly effective products, particularly those available from discount retailers. It is disappointing all round at a time of a cost-of- living crisis.’

But in a sign there is more misery to come for households, Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Matt Britzman said: ‘We are not expecting price hikes to end any time soon.’

Reckitt insisted prices across the group had risen 8 per cent, less than half its overall cost increases.

‘We will continue to do everything we can to limit future prices increases,’ it said.

Published in This is 25th February 2023.

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