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    Supermarkets called out for wide day to day fluctuations in price

    File Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    An investigation by Which? has found that prices of popular groceries can vary by up to 284 per cent in major supermarkets.

    The pricing investigation looked at the prices of 493 branded grocery products at Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose every day throughout 2020 to uncover how much, and how often, the price of these products change.

    Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground Coffee (250g) at Ocado has been found as the product with the most dramatic price difference, with price ranging from £1.30 to £5, 284 per cent more for exactly the same product. While online supermarket sold the product for £1.30 on 63 days, it charged £5 on 130 days.

    Which? said Ocado has clarified the fluctuation in price as ‘a technical error’ which had now been fixed.

    Other products that have shown large fluctuations include Muller Light Greek Luscious Lemon (4x120g) and Walkers Sensations Crisps Thai Sweet Chilli (150g), which varied by 175 per cent and 167 per cent respectively at Sainsbury’s, and Carte D’or Vanilla ice cream (1L) at Asda, which fluctuated by 133 per cent.

    “Overall, we found the prices of almost all the products in our investigation varied regularly on a high-low basis at all six supermarkets. Most of the products could be found on discount at one or more retailers at any one time,” Which? said in a blog post.

    Among the 19 popular categories of branded groceries, from chocolate to cheese, Asda offered the cheapest average prices for all of the categories and Waitrose was priciest for eight categories and Ocado for seven.

    Cakes and cookies fluctuated by 48 per cent, more than any other category covered in the investigation. This was followed by juice drinks and smoothies (41%), cooking sauces (38%), crisps (36%) and cereal (35%). Wrapped bakery item prices moved around the least on average, although they still changed by 13 per cent.

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