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Heinz staples such as baked beans, ketchup, salad cream and soup have soared in price by up to 55 per cent in June, MailOnline can reveal today, as Tesco shoppers face empty shelves and missing products online because of a stand-off with the US conglomerate.
The battle between Britain’s biggest retailer and the world’s fifth largest food producer means millions of already hard-up Britons are struggling to get their favourite products from Tesco – or face having to pay much more elsewhere.
And amid a supermarket price war and the worst cost of living crisis since the 1970s stoked by rampant inflation, data from retail research experts Assosia shows the price of Heinz beans is up a third in Asda since June 17 – up from 90p to £1.20 per can – while a standard bottle of Heinz squeezy ketchup is up 39 per cent in Morrisons, from £2 to £2.79.
Cans of Heinz soups, including family favourite Cream of Tomato, have also gone up. The price of a 4x400g pack has increased 40 per cent from £2.50 to £3.50 in Sainsbury’s. In Asda a single can has gone up from 90p to £1.40.
A 4x200g pack of baked beans Snap Pots is up 20 per cent from £2.50 to £2.99 in Morrisons this month. While a small 200g can of Heinz beans with sausages appears to almost doubled from 65p to £1.20 in Asda.
Some shoppers have said they are happy to eat own brand alternatives, claiming they can save money and insist the taste is as good as the more expensive Heinz products.
Tesco has refused to put up the price of a standard can of Heinz beans since Christmas, when it went from 85p to £1, as retail experts claimed Heinz is trying to protect its average 13 per cent profit margin on its foods while Tesco wants to keep the four to five per cent profit margin it enjoys.
And in a tit-for-tat battle Heinz has now refused to supply its best selling products including baked beans, ketchup, salad cream and soups unless Tesco agrees to pay an increase that appears to have been accepted by rivals including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in recent weeks.
Tesco shoppers have been taking pictures of empty shelves usually loaded with Heinz’s best selling foods and condiments all over the UK. Online customers have also said that items are unavailable, especially multipacks of tinned goods.
Tesco and Kraft Heinz have both refused to say what the price rises would be – and after no agreement between the two companies, Tesco shoppers have been struggling to get their favourite products in recent weeks.
MailOnline has asked the supermarket if they plan to ration the number of Heinz products customers can buy in store or online. It is not clear if Tesco is also rationing its own deliveries to ensure Heinz stock in warehouses does not run out.
The row chimes of ‘Marmitegate’ – when Tesco ran out of the spread having resisted owner Unilever’s bid to raise wholesale prices by a blanket ten per cent six years ago.
Andy Clarke, former chief executive of Asda, said today the row between the two companies shows how much supermarkets are trying to reduce costs.
He said: ‘It’s about pricing. And this is not a new thing. Resellers and manufacturers do disagree at times, and sometimes the impact is that a supplier will stop sending products to those stores,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Mr Clarke said it is not a PR exercise for Tesco, adding: ‘This, I would suggest, is about those two businesses getting to an agreement as to what a cost increase looks like, and then Tesco have to decide how much of that they’re going to pass on protect their shoppers.’
Kraft Heinz said it was ‘working closely with Tesco to resolve the situation as quickly as possible’ and was ‘confident in a positive resolution’ – but declined to say how much more it wants Tesco to charge.
And shoppers posted photos on Twitter which appeared to show empty shelves in Tesco stores in the UK.
Tesco’s website shows that products including Beanz 4x415g, Sticky Barbecue Sauce 500g, Salad Cream 605g, Baked Beans & Pork Sausages 200g, Beanz No Added Sugar 4x415g Snap Pots 4x200g, Beanz No Added Sugar 200g and Chicken Noodle Soup 400g are unavailable.
A Tesco spokesman said: ‘We’re laser-focused on keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check, offering customers great value through our combination of Aldi Price Match, Low Everyday Prices and Clubcard Prices.
‘With household budgets under increasing pressure, now more than ever we have a responsibility to ensure customers get the best possible value, and we will not pass on unjustifiable price increases to our customers.
Baked beans are up a third in the past month as Heinz put up prices for British supermarkets – adding 30p to a standard can
The price of a can of cream of tomato soup is up up to 50% since the 10th of June, from, 90p to £1.40p
Another staple in the majority of British households, Heinz ketchup is up a third or more in some cases from £2 to £2.79
Salad cream, much loved in the sandwiches and salads up and down the land, is up from £2 to £2.50
‘We’re sorry that this means some products aren’t available right now, but we have plenty of alternatives to choose from and we hope to have this issue resolved soon.’
A Kraft Heinz spokesperson said: ‘We are working closely with Tesco to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
‘In today’s challenging economic environment – with commodity and production costs rising – many consumers are working within tight budgets. We always look at how we can provide value through price, size and packs so consumers can enjoy the products they love and trust at a price point that works within their budgets, without compromising on quality.
‘We are confident of a positive resolution with Tesco.’
Research by The Grocer trade publication, which first reported the dispute, said data showed prices had surged across the entire Heinz range over recent weeks.
The price of a 4x400g pack of Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup, for instance, had risen from £2.50 to £3.50 in Sainsbury’s, while a 4x200g pack of Beanz Snap Pots had risen from £2.50 to £2.99 in Morrisons.
A single 415g can of Beanz in Asda has risen from 90p to £1.20, according retail researchers Assosia.
In recent months food manufacturers have reported rising costs, including for energy and commodities, with some warning they would need to raise the prices they charge to retailers.
However, supermarkets continue to battle each other to win customers, who are reining in their spending to cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
Rising food prices have helped push inflation to a 40-year high and shoppers are already cutting back on the amount of food they buy, according to a survey for the Office for National Statistics.
Published in The Dailymail, 30 June 2022