Supermarket giants are facing calls to slash prices amid accusations of profiteering.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, has urged the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate whether some of Britain’s biggest supermarket brands are profiteering while working people struggle with record food price inflation.
Analysis published by the Liberal Democrats suggests that the cost of a weekly shop for the average family has risen by £12, or £600 over the course of a year.
Mr Davey said: ‘We need to bring soaring food prices back under control and offer relief to families. That means cracking down on profiteering by food multinationals and the big supermarkets so customers get a fair deal.’
According to government statistics, the price of food and drink had risen by nearly 20 percent to March this year. This is the fastest rate recorded since 1977, when Jim Callaghan’s administration struggled with a stagnant economy and high inflation. Meanwhile, the cost of basics, such as bread and pasta, has increased by 50 percent year on year.
Major players such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s have collected millions in profits over the last 12 months. Tesco made £753m last year, while Sainsbury’s recorded profits of £690m. Although both brands saw a drop in profit levels, it has not been enough to deflect criticism from some quarters that they are gouging already tight consumer budgets at a time when the cost-of-living is creating misery for millions of people.
However, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Helen Dickinson, said: ‘We should start to see food prices come down in the coming months as the cut to wholesale prices and other cost pressures filter through.
‘In the meantime, retailers remain committed to helping their customers and keeping prices as low as possible.’
The Workers Union Says…
Every period of economic strife seems to add a new word to the lexicon of the English language. Last year, we called on supermarkets to stop “shrinkflation”; now we are challenging them to halt “greedflation”.
The Workers Union is not anti-business. We know that trading conditions are difficult, and prices are up across supply chains. But we also know that workers’ wages are, in many cases, failing to keep up with inflation.
So we are calling on company chiefs to show leadership and find a better balance between profit and fairness. It will not be easy, but now is the time to act to show that corporate responsibility is a commitment, not just a policy document.