Asda to stock low-price ranges in more stores after Jack Monroe’s comments

Business

Asda said it had “taken on board” comments by food poverty campaigner Jack Monroe as it announced it would stock low-price ranges in all of its 581 stores.

Ms Monroe had highlighted, in a series of recent tweets, the lack of availability of many of the supermarket chain’s “Smart Price” products.

Asda currently stocks 150 Smart Price and Farm Stores products in 300 stores.

Food blogger Jack Monroe outside the High Court
Image:
Jack Monroe says inflation figures underestimate the extent of the squeeze being felt by the poorest

It said that from 1 March it would offer 200 products in these value ranges in all stores.

The chain will offer 200 lines under the cut-price brands online by the end of February, it added.

Chief customer officer Meg Farren said: “We want to help our customers’ budgets stretch further and have taken on board the comments about the availability of our Smart Price range made by Jack Monroe.

“We are taking steps to put our full Smart Price and Farm Stores ranges in store and online to make these products as accessible as possible.”

More on Cost Of Living

Ms Monroe has been campaigning to highlight the impact of the surge in the cost of living on the lowest income households.

She has pointed to big increases in the price of the cheapest available lines of staples such as rice and pasta, which she said had in some cases more than doubled since last year.

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‘I leave my coat on’ to keep warm at home

Inflation, at 5.4%, is running at a near-30 year high, but Ms Monroe argues that the measure “grossly underestimates the real cost of inflation as it happens to people with the least”.

In the wake of her intervention, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed plans to increase the number of price points it measures each month and acknowledged that “everyone has their own personal inflation rate”.

The ONS has also resumed the publication of analysis showing how inflation affects people at different income levels.

It found that the rate of price rises experienced by households in the run-up to Christmas was similar for both low and high earners despite variations in their spending patterns.

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Food price pressures ‘will take months to feed through’

For the higher earners it was spending on the likes of transport, restaurants and furniture that had a bigger impact while for lower income households, housing-related costs including energy bills represented a bigger proportion of their budgets and their experience of inflation, the ONS said.

The inflation squeeze is expected to intensify over the coming months when the energy price cap goes up, meaning that millions of families face an average increase of around £700 in their annual gas and electricity bill.

Rising food prices are also contributing and over the weekend John Allan, chairman of Britain’s biggest supermarket chain Tesco, warned that the worst was yet to come.

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