Tesco has almost doubled the price of a tin of Heinz tomato soup, leading to accusations of double standards and ‘price gouging’.

The UK’s biggest grocer now charges £1.70 for a 400g tin of the nation-favourite. A week ago the cost stood at £1.40, but in a devastating blow to shoppers a tin now costs a fifth, or 30p, more.

Cash-strapped shoppers, already grappling with soaring energy and mortgage bills, were hit with the further 21 per cent increase this week, according to industry data.

Figures from Assosia, seen by the Mail, reveal the price of a tin of the American giant’s Cream Of Tomato Soup at Tesco has risen 79 per cent, from just 95p, since June.

It comes just six months after Tesco pledged to stand by squeezed consumers and not pass on ‘unjustifiable’ price increases, leading to a bitter dispute with Heinz. Tesco was praised for standing firm against the giant, with Heinz cutting off supply to the supermarket during the dispute.

Responding to the price hikes, a senior industry source said: ‘To raise prices after shouting about holding Heinz to account stinks of double standards.

‘With money tight for so many right now what customers really value is consistency and transparency.’

The increases come as the UK faces its biggest drop in living standards on record as the surging cost of living eats into people’s wages.

Official forecaster the Office for Budget Responsibility said household incomes will dive by 7 per cent by 2024.

The price of a weekly shop is 14.4 per cent higher than a year ago and households are hunting for bargains, with a growing shift to own label products and discount grocers Aldi and Lidl.

Meanwhile, MailOnline uncovered last week that supermarkets have been quietly increasing prices of ready meals and microwave dishes by up to 50 per cent over the last year. 

And this month, the Mail revealed how fresh food prices had rocketed by 15 per cent – as retailers warned there was no sign the boom was going to slow down any time soon.

Tesco, which controls more than a quarter of the UK’s grocery market, has now been accused of turning its back on the pledge it made in June to ‘not pass on unjustifiable price increases’ to shoppers.

The business promised a ‘laser-focus’ on keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check and won praise for standing firm against Heinz, a £43billion US conglomerate.

Yesterday chief executive Ken Murphy said: ‘We are battling to keep prices down for customers. And it’s an ongoing and ongoing kind of struggle, but we’re doing our best.’

Food experts previously blamed the rising costs of tomatoes as well as soaring energy bills and a shortage of people in Wigan available to work in Heinz’s British factory for rises in tomato soup prices.

Tesco’s soup price hikes bring it in line with major rivals Sainsbury’s and Asda, and slightly above Morrisons.

But the shocking figures led to allegations of ‘profiteering’.

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow consumer champion, said there appears to be no good reason for the increases. She said: ‘If Tesco were only inflating prices to incur costs they were facing then surely this would not be the case.

‘Not one thing in the chain has gone up by 78 per cent, so how is putting up the cost of a tin of soup 78 per cent over six months months appropriate and reflective of costs? Inflation is high but it’s not at 78 per cent. I think this reflects very badly on Tesco and shows the importance of comparing prices across supermarkets if you can.’

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said: ‘It is becoming increasingly clear that profiteering is at large in our high streets and superstores with 100 per cent price rises across many run-of-the-mill items. I have the benefit of my father, aged 88, a retired retailer, who is a super sleuth on these matters.

‘Obviously capitalism and profits are the currency that makes our economy go round and I wouldn’t want it any other way but some of the price gouging on basic products is even putting what we’ve seen going on with forecourt fuel costs look like small beer. I’d recommend some serious shopping around by consumers and voting with wallets and purses.’

Sue Davies, Which? Head of Food Policy, said: ‘Some of the nation’s favourite branded foods have soared in price by a shocking amount amid the cost of living crisis. These hikes show why it is so important for retailers to provide people with a choice of product ranges.

‘Supermarkets can make a real difference to hard-hit households by ensuring everyone has easy access to basic, affordable food lines at a store near them, particularly in areas where people are most in need.

‘Promotions should be targeted at those most likely to be struggling and pricing should be more transparent so shoppers can easily compare products and get the best value.’

A Tesco spokesman said: ‘With household budgets under increasing pressure, we’re even more committed to providing our customers with great value by price matching Aldi on the basics, locking the price of more than a thousand household staples – including a number of popular Heinz products – until Easter 2023, and offering exclusive deals and rewards through thousands of Clubcard Prices.

‘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. Clearly there are some real pressures on many of our suppliers, and we work closely with them to make sure we support them with genuine cost pressures whilst continuing to offer great prices on the products that matter most to our customers.’

Published on Daily Mail on 12th January 2023


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