According to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), high food price inflation in Britain has not been driven by weak retail competition, vindicating supermarkets’ rejections of claims they have profiteered. With official data showing food price inflation to have reached 19%, the highest since 1977, in March, this is a major strain on the finances of many households.
CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell commented, “Not all retailers are displaying prices as clearly as they should, which could be hampering people’s ability to compare product prices.” The CMA went on to recommend tightening rules around unit pricing – product costs calculated by weight or volume – and called on the government to reform legislation to help shoppers.
The next phase of the CMA’s probe will examine competition and prices across the supply chain for 10 product categories, including milk, bread, and baby formula. BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson commented on retailers’ efforts to protect consumers from rising costs in the supply chain, saying, “Retailers have gone above and beyond to try and protect consumers from rising costs in the supply chain.” With supermarket chains faced with the challenge of combating rising costs and dampened consumer confidence due to the current economic crisis, competition within this market is key.
The CMA’s latest update on the issue of food price inflation serves as an important indication of the significant effort supermarkets are making to ensure prices remain competitive and, by extension, consumers’ right to spot the best deals.