September 26, 2022


Sunday Times analysis shows stark price differences

A 400g tub of Sudocrem costs €11.79 at Tesco in Ireland and €6.85 in its British stores

Irish goods including Clonakilty sausages, Irish Yogurts and Sudocrem, the nappy rash cream, are cheaper in British supermarkets than in Irish outlets, an investigation by The Sunday Times has found.

Some retailers that operate in both countries, including Tesco and Boots, charge Irish customers more for the same products at current exchange rates.

The findings will increase concern over whether retailers give Irish shoppers a fair deal against the background of an escalating cost of living crisis and claims of price gouging in sectors such as hotels and car rental.

Matt Carthy, a Sinn Fein TD, said yesterday: “It is clear Irish consumers are being ripped off and nobody appears to have control of this situation. The government and the [Competition and Consumer Protection Commission] need to clarify the full reasons why Irish customers are paying more for the exact same products than their British counterparts.”

Ged Nash, a Labour TD, said it would be “galling for Irish customers to see familiar products that are produced in the Republic costing us much more than they do across the water or in the north”.

The Sunday Times analysis found that a 400g tub of Sudocrem, which is made in Baldoyle, Dublin, costs €11.79 in Tesco in Ireland, 72 per cent more than the price at Tesco in Britain of £5.80 (€6.85). The product costs €11.90 in SuperValu in Ireland, more than twice the price at Sainsbury’s supermarkets in Britain where it is £5 (€5.91).

A four-pack of diet fat-free Irish Yogurts, made in Clonakilty, Co Cork, is on special offer in Sainsbury’s but usually retails at £1.50 (€1.77).

A six-pack of the same yogurt retails for €3.99 (£3.38) in SuperValu, which works out at 66c (56p) per pot compared with 44c (37p) per pot in the UK — so 50 per cent more in Ireland.

An eight-pack of Clonakilty traditional Irish pork sausages costs £1.50 (€1.77) in Asda but is €2.30 (£1.95) in SuperValu, about 30 per cent more expensive. The same sausages, which are made in Ireland, are 12 per cent more expensive in Dunnes Stores here at €1.99 (£1.68).

Even on products on which Irish supermarkets compete on price, British shoppers can still get a better deal. Tesco advertises that it matches discounter Aldi’s price of €3.60 for a standard-sized box of Barry’s Gold Blend tea, a staple in many Irish households, with SuperValu, Dunnes and Lidl also pricing at this level. However, Morrisons supermarket in Britain sells the same product slightly cheaper, at £3 (€3.54).

Retailers operating in both markets also offer British shoppers better value on popular non-Irish products, with Tesco selling Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate, Weetabix cereal and Hovis bread for less in Britain than in Ireland. Its loose British potatoes cost twice as much as its loose Irish potatoes, with 1kg bags of carrots also almost twice the price here.

In Boots, a 360ml bottle of Garnier coconut shampoo which sells for £2 (€2.36) is more than twice as expensive here at €5.29 (£4.48). Boots charges Irish women more for many period products: 14-packs of Bodyform sanitary towels are on special offer in both countries but are over 50 per cent more expensive here at €2.59 (£2.19) for one pack while in the UK it is £2.65 (€3.13) for a twin pack.

Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Boots said several factors lay behind the price differences, including transport, exchange rates, excise and VAT. However, VAT on food and period products in Ireland is typically zero or at a reduced rate, although shampoo is at the standard rate, which is higher than in Britain.

Each store said it competed on price and offered value to Irish consumers. Boots said it ensured its pricing “is in line with the local market”, while Lidl said: “Ireland and the UK operate different supermarket groups, with different buying behaviours, and cannot be compared like for like.”

SuperValu and Dunnes did not respond to requests for comment. Manufacturers said pricing was an issue for retailers.

Damian O’Reilly, lecturer in management at Technical University Dublin, said Irish supermarkets were typically smaller than those in the UK, partly due to planning guidelines that capped their size and led to increased costs.

The Department of Agriculture said an Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agri-Food Supply Chain was being established but would deal only with business-to-business relationships.

Carthy said the bill setting up the regulator indicated it would be “toothless”, lack enforcement powers and analyse only existing information.

“What we know is how much farmers receive . . . and we know what the consumer pays for the product at the end of the day,” Carthy said.

“Where there’s a major lack of transparency is in what’s happened in between, and according to the heads of the bill, we’re not going to have any further clarity.”

Nash said some price differences were so extreme that retailers’ claims about higher costs in Ireland in terms of wages and other factors were “simply not credible”.

“Without evidence to the contrary, it isn’t hard to conclude that some big supermarket operators are taking Irish consumers for a ride, using the Irish market to boost the bottom line across their UK and EU operations,” he said.

All exchange rate conversions were made via yesterday.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.