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Cost of living: Price of milk, cheese and butter jump by 30%

Groceries  NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  A shopping trolley is filled with groceries at a Lidl supermarket store on November 14, 2022 in Newcastle Under Lyme, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Groceries like butters and spreads went up by 29.4%. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty

Butter, milk and cheese and other basic groceries have seen their price shoot up by 30% in the last year as inflation continues to squeeze UK households.

Which?’s supermarket food and drink inflation tracker revealed that milk saw a price increase of 26.3%, cheese was 22.3% costlier, bakery items were up by 19.5%, water was 18.6% more expensive and savoury pies, pastries and quiches saw an 18.5% jump in average price.

The consumer group's tracker records the annual inflation of tens of thousands of food and drink products across three months at eight major supermarkets ⁠— Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado (OCDO.L), Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), Tesco (TSCO.L) and Waitrose ⁠— to see how inflation is impacting everyday products.

Across supermarket ranges, budget and own-brand items were subject to higher rates of inflation, seeing rises or 20.3% and 18.5% respectively, than premium (12.6%) and branded counterparts, up by 12.6% and 12.5% respectively.

Despite being a discount retailer, Lidl prices went up the most, increasing by 21.1% in December, followed closely by Aldi at 20.8%. Asda had the third highest inflation but was closer to the average of 15% with a rise of 15.4%.

Meanwhile at Waitrose (14.5%), Sainsbury’s (13.7%), Tesco (13.1%), Morrisons (12.9%) and Ocado (10.5%) inflation rose slightly less.

Overall in December, food and drink inflation was at 15% overall across the eight retailers.

One product has risen by 188%

Utterly Butterly (500g) saw dramatic price rises at several supermarkets including Waitrose where it went from £1 to £1.95, an increase of 95%. Waitrose Duchy Organic Homogenised Semi-Skimmed Milk (1 pint/568ml) went from 65p to £1.22, a rise of 87.1%, and at Tesco, Creamfields French Brie (200g) went from 79p to £1.43, up by 81.59%.

Read more: Cheapest UK supermarket of 2022 revealed

The biggest individual price hike on a food item across all the supermarkets was Quaker Oat So Simple Simply Apple (8x33g) at Asda which went from £1 on average in December 2021 to an average £2.88 in December 2022 ⁠— a sharp increase of 188%.

Sue Davies, Which? head of food policy, said: “We know food prices have risen exponentially in the last year and our inflation tracker shows the dramatic impact this is having on everyday products at the supermarket.

“Some households are already skipping meals to make ends meet and our findings show trust in supermarkets taking a hit as many people worry they are putting profits before the people suffering during this cost of living crisis.”

Read more: Aldi axes online deliveries to focus on new stores

A shopper in his late 30s from the South East, told Which?: “The cost of food from supermarkets is close to unmanageable for many people, including myself. Given that large supermarkets make huge profits, I feel they could keep their prices down while we struggle with the cost of living.”

A 43-year-old woman from Yorkshire and Humberside said supermarkets “don’t care about the consumer and charge whatever they can to make as much profit as possible.”

Davies said: “Supermarkets must do more, Which? is calling for them to ensure everyone has easy access to basic, affordable food ranges at a store near them, particularly in areas where people are most in need, as well as pricing which enables people to easily work out best value and promotions to support people who are particularly struggling.”

The survey also shows that trust in supermarkets is plummeting, from positive 67 in May 2021 to positive 42 now.

Trust at Aldi and Lidl tended to be lower than their rivals 18 months ago but has stayed relatively the same during this period, leaving it now higher than average at positive 48 and positive 45 respectively.

Waitrose had the lowest level of trust (positive 29) among all consumers, although trust levels among its own customers is significantly higher at 54.

Price rises emerged as a common reason for a lack of trust, particularly the perception prices were sometimes artificially inflated and went beyond what was necessary for businesses to offset their own rising costs.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: “Which?’s own research released today shows that our price inflation was in fact lower than the market average. We’re working very hard with our suppliers to ensure we offer great value, while continuing to deliver industry-leading animal welfare standards, fresh produce grown with care and fair deals for farmers.”

Watch: Tesco boss makes food inflation prediction as big retailers report Christmas progress