Britons are buying more ‘fake’ vegetables and frozen food as cost of living soars | Supermarkets

Households are turning to “fake” vegetables and frozen foods in a bid to cut costs as grocery prices soared a record 13.9% last month.

Supermarket inflation is at the highest level since at least 2008, when market research group Kantar began collecting data adding £643 a year to the average family’s grocery bill, which now exceeds £5,200.

Higher purchase bills are adding pressure on households struggling with higher energy and oil costs, while some homeowners have also seen a sharp increase in their mortgage payments.

Shoppers are looking for ways to offset inflation, with sales of cheaper imperfect vegetables – known in some stores as wonky vegetables – up 38% in September, while sales of frozen foods, which can help reduce waste, increased by 10%. Sales of fresh vegetables are also up – by 6% – suggesting that households are cooking more from scratch in order to save money.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insights at Kantar, said: “Consumers are looking for ways to manage their budget and avoid paying more for their purchases. We’re usually reluctant to change what we eat, so it’s more about sticking to the food we know and love while looking for cheaper alternatives.

He said families are also turning to cheaper supermarket branded products. Almost two-thirds of Asda customers have put one of its Just Essentials value range in their basket.

The launch of the range helped the UK’s third-largest supermarket attract 417,000 new shoppers and boost sales by 4.5%, ahead of traditional rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

Asda, which was bought by billionaire brothers Issa and private equity group TDR Capital two years ago, has reported gradually stronger sales growth since July.

However, traditional supermarkets are being overtaken by discounters Aldi and Lidl, which both increased sales by more than 20% in the three months to October 2. Waitrose and Morrisons fared particularly poorly in the quarter, with sales down 3% and nearly 4% respectively.

Sales of energy-efficient appliances such as air fryers and sandwiches are up 53%, while electric blankets are up 8% year-on-year and candles up 9%, suggesting some are bracing themselves to the prospect of winter power outages.

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