It pays to know your onions: Packaged produce can cost 70p more than when you weigh it yourself
- Depending on the store, packaging can add up to 70p on cost of a shopping trip
You may think you know your onions – and possibly even how much they cost in a supermarket.
But even the most attentive shopper may have failed to spot that the netting on pre-packed veg can cost considerably more than its contents.
Depending on the store, the little sack seems to add 55p to 70p to the cost of a shopping trip.
At Sainsbury’s, a sock of three onions costs £1.10. But that same pack works out at 39p if the onions had been sold loose, a Mail investigation discovered this week.
The same pattern was seen at Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose – the pre-packed nets ended up costing between a half and a third of the total price.
Depending on the store, the little sack seems to add 55p to 70p to the cost of a shopping trip (Stock Image)
Retail experts say supermarkets are taking advantage of the assumption among shoppers that buying items in packs will save them money. But the pricing quirk has been exposed on social media. Shopper Dominic Wilder, from Lindfield, in West Sussex, said: ‘It’s not a small difference.
Value food prices soar
Prices for supermarket value ranges have risen 22 per cent in a year – far faster than the rate of grocery inflation.
Analysis shows average budget lines across Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco surged 22.3 per cent in the year to August 16, while food inflation as a whole was 13.6 per cent in the same period. Asda had the biggest value price rises, The Grocer magazine and insights firm Assosia found – 30.3 per cent, or an average of 24p per product.
Morrisons was the only grocer whose affordable ranges increased by less than inflation, rising 12.2 per cent.
‘The amount you are paying for a net, and the privilege of having three onions all the same size, seems a little steep. Is that really worth 70p? I now only buy loose onions and if I see other shoppers picking up the nets, I warn them.’
Sarah Coles, from investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘It varies across different fruit and veg, but there’s always the risk you’ll pay more for pre-packaged items. Supermarkets know there are people who compare prices, weigh items and get a good deal. There are also those who grab a bag on the go.’
Lisa Hooker, of accounting firm PwC, said: ‘Onions for multipacks must all be the same size and standard – so they need sorting and quality checks. On top of that, they are packed into the nets. That all makes them more expensive to provide to consumers.’
A Waitrose spokesman said: ‘Our netted onions are chosen for their optimum size and quality.
‘If customers prefer loose onions, we’ve got plenty of options. All are clearly labelled so customers can make informed decisions.’
Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have made no comment.