Thu. Jun 30th, 2022
Cost of living crisis

Activist cries in relief as she commends supermarket for lowering prices amid cost-of-living crisis

Sat 12 Feb 2022 21.28 GMT

The anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe returned to her local supermarket on Saturday for the first time since her tweets about the increasing price of groceries went viral to find that her campaign had been successful.

The activist has been urging supermarkets to make the cheapest food ranges more widely available after highlighting the inflation in products such as rice and value ranges being removed from shelves in her local Asda in Shoeburyness, Essex, last month. She tweeted that in January 2021 the cheapest pasta was 29p for 500g. It had increased to 70p amid the cost of living crisis.

Monroe also highlighted that the cheapest rice in the Asda branch in January 2021 was 45p for a 1kg bag which had increased to £1 for 500g.

She tweeted on Saturday that a pasta bag was available for 29p and rice had returned to 45p for a kilogram bag.

The campaigner also posted pictures of baked bean tins and canned spaghetti which had returned to last year’s prices.

She tweeted: “I’ve cried in supermarkets plenty in the last 10 years. Putting back jam that had crept up by sixpence, meaning SB and I faced a week of bone dry toast. Trying to work out what to put back, what to do without, out of a tenner’s worth of groceries that weren’t enough to start with.

“I’ve cried tears of humiliation when a shelf-edge label turned out to be advertising an expired promotion, tipping my shopping over what I could afford from the six pounds or so in change – the only money I had in the world – in my hand.

“And today I cried, quietly, to myself, in Asda, as the enormity of all of the last few weeks finally sank in among all the white labels in my shopping basket.

“So I guess I just wanted to say thanks to everyone at Asda who has worked really hard over the last few weeks to bring the missing Smart Price products back.”

In an article for the Observer last month, Monroe wrote that she was launching her own price index alongside a team of economists, charitable partners, anti-poverty campaigners, retail price analysts and former staff from the Office for National Statistics to document “the disappearance of the budget lines and the insidiously creeping prices of the most basic versions of essential items at the supermarket.”

The campaigner, who has given evidence to parliamentary inquiries and been consulted on the School Food Plan and the National Food Strategy, added: “And today, I could put extra treats in my shopping basket for SB. Today, I managed to get so much in my £20 basket that I was clutching rice and oats and muesli to my bosom as I wrestled to the checkout. Today is the happiest shopping experience in over a decade.

“The turnaround for this has been almost immediate – the speed at which they responded, not just with words, but with exactly what they said they would do – has been absolutely remarkable.”

It comes after Asda on Monday committed to making its cheapest food ranges more widely available after Monroe’s social media campaign.

The retailer said it had taken onboard Monroe’s comments and would stock its full Smart Price and Farm Stores ranges in all 581 food stores and online, increasing the number of customers who have access to the products.

Meg Farren, Asda’s chief customer officer, said on Monday: “We want to help our customers’ budgets stretch further and have taken onboard the comments about the availability of our Smart Price range made by Jack Monroe.”

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