Romford food prices soar by up to 55 per cent in under six weeks

Asda, Sainsbury's Tesco Express and Lidl in Romford

The Romford Recorder visited Asda, Sainsbury's, Tesco Express and Lidl on April 21, then returned on May 30. It found some prices had soared - Credit: Charles Thomson / Google Streetview

Food prices have shot up by as much as 55 per cent in Romford town centre in the last six weeks.

As part of its Your Money Matters campaign, the Recorder launched its own price tracker in April for four local supermarkets.

When we returned less than six weeks later, chicken and beer had risen by up to seven per cent, bread by up to nine per cent and pasta by up to 20 per cent.

In Sainsbury’s, the price-per-gram of a twin-pack of McVitie’s chocolate digestives had risen by more than 55 per cent.

Milk, eggs, toiletries and vegetables were also up in some stores.

Our data was collected on the same day that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said food prices had risen by an average of six or seven per cent in the year up to April.

That was slightly below the rate of inflation – but few residents will have received six or seven per cent wage rises in order to keep up and energy bills are rising even faster.

On April 21, 2022, we visited four supermarkets in and around Romford High Street: Lidl, Asda, Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s.

We chose them as they were all a few minutes’ walk from one another, so shoppers could nab the best deals from each without additional travel costs.

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We returned on May 30 to re-check prices.

Here are the charts showing the prices we found on both visits.

Some prices couldn't be compared, like Tropicana juice, as stores were stocking them in different sizes.

From our 22-item list, Sainsbury's had the most comparable items which had risen (eight).

Asda had five, Lidl four and Tesco Express three.

cost of living crisis campaign logo Your Money Matters

Cost of living crisis 'Your Money Matters' campaign logo - Credit: Archant

Bread and pasta

The prices of the cheapest loaves of white bread were unchanged in all stores.

But since our April visit, the price of an 800g loaf of Hovis wholemeal at Sainsbury’s had risen from £1.10 to £1.20 (9.1 per cent).

In April we checked prices for 500g of penne pasta and 500g of Dolmio bolognese sauce.

The combo was £1.48 at Lidl, £2.50 at Sainsbury’s, £2.40 at Tesco Express and £2.25 at Asda.

By May 30 the prices were £2.70 at Sainsbury’s (up eight per cent), £2.55 at Tesco Express (up 6.2 per cent) and £2.30 at Asda (up 2.2 per cent). Lidl’s price had not changed.

The sauce hadn’t got any dearer at Tesco Express but the pasta was up 20 per cent, from 75p to 90p.

Sainsbury's in Romford

Hovis wholemeal was up nine per cent at Sainsbury's, and pasta and bolognese sauce were up eight per cent - Credit: Charles Thomson

Other basics

Four pints of semi-skimmed milk had risen 3.2 per cent at Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Asda.

A box of 12 medium eggs had risen by 10p at Lidl (6.3 per cent).

But at Asda and Tesco Express, eggs had become cheaper.

Chicken breast was dearer at three stores.

At Lidl it was up from £5.69 to £5.99 (5.3 per cent); Tesco Express had risen from £6.13 to £6.56 (seven per cent); and Asda’s was up from £5.45 to £5.85 (7.3 per cent).

But at Sainsbury’s it had fallen 4.7 per cent from £5.50 to £5.24.

Another item which had fallen at three supermarkets was mixed salad.

Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Asda all had bags of salad for less than 25p per 100g.

Tesco Express in Romford High Street

Tesco Express had the lowest number of price hikes on identical items - just three: chicken, pasta and Fosters beer - but it was dearer than the others for many products to begin with - Credit: Charles Thomson

What the stores say

Sainsbury’s said looking at a small number of products over a short period of time would not give a full picture.

The chain said prices change "all the time” and some items – including certain bread, nappies and packs of apples – were cheaper in May 2022 than they were in 2021.

It was investing £500m to help customers “find low prices on the everyday items they buy the most often”, the chain said.

“We understand our customers are facing significant pressure on their household budgets and that every penny counts,” a spokesperson said.

Tesco said it had extended Clubcard discounts to Express stores last year and had been regularly rated as the best-value supermarket, based on Clubcard prices.

It said it was “absolutely committed to helping our customers by keeping a laser focus on the cost of the weekly shop”.

Asda's new Just Essentials range

Asda told the Romford Recorder it was launching a new 'Just Essentials' range to help keep residents' food bills low amid the soaring cost of living - Credit: Supplied by Asda

Asda said its price for Heinz ketchup had only risen due to the end of a special offer, but confirmed all the other price rises found by the Recorder.

The chain said it was “doing everything we can to keep prices as low as possible”.

A spokesperson said Asda was creating a new range called Just Essentials, from which “customers will be able to choose from a selection of more than 300 everyday products on the tightest budget”.

Lidl said its focus was on providing customers with "the best quality products at the lowest possible price".

A spokesperson said Which? had rated it Britain's cheapest supermarket for five out of five months so far this year.