Sainsbury’s vs Aldi: How huge price difference in ‘middle class’ goods stunned researchers

Founded in 1869 by John James Sainsbury with a shop in Drury Lane, the supermarket soon became a British favourite for its high quality and low prices, rising to the largest UK retailer by 1922. But, in 1995, Tesco snatched the top spot and has never looked back, and in 2003 Asda temporarily overtook them, demoting Sainsbury’s to third. Today, Sainsbury’s enjoys a 16 percent market share of the supermarket sector, with more than 1,400 stores across Britain – but it now faces a new threat as the German discounters are quickly catching up.

Broadcaster Jonathan Maitlands investigated Aldi and Lidl during ITV’s ‘The Rise Of Discount Supermarkets’ to compare 19 so-called middle class products to the Big Four with the help of Good Housekeeping Consumer Affairs Director Caroline Bloor.

Ms Bloor said in 2014: “For the last 90 years. Good Housekeeping has been taste testing products, comparing prices and we just wanted to get a feel for the move in how people are shopping and how supermarkets are changing.

“So we put together this basket of 19 goods to take a look at all of the supermarkets, from the discounters to the high-end supermarkets.”

The items included products you may not normally associate with the discounters, such as smoked salmon, Greek yoghurt and Colombian ground coffee.

Mr Maitland commented: “Can I just say that the items you’ve chosen, I mean pesto, asparagus, are all a little bit posh?”

Before Ms Bloor said these items had been chosen specifically to put the Big Four to the test.

She added: “Yes, we wanted to look at how the discounters have moved into the middle-class territory.

“We found there was a big price difference.”

Then, Ms Bloor started to compare the prices of the 19 items at each shop, with some surprising results.

She added: “Starting with the most expensive, Marks & Spencer was £52.59 for a basket of 19 items and Waitrose was £51.16.

“It was really the meat that made it more expensive.

“Sainsbury’s was £49.32, Co-op £48.92, Morrisons £42.32, Tesco £41.89 and Asda £38.65.

“Down to the final two, Aldi was £34.01, but the clear winner was Lidl – at £33.61.”

Mr Maitland noted an astonishing discovery in the difference, stating: “That makes Aldi and Lidl almost 40 percent cheaper than M&S and Waitrose for this basket of goods.”

The comparison was carried out in 2014, but more recent research released by Which? last month revealed that Aldi was still 19 per cent cheaper on average than the Big Four supermarkets.

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The comparison was carried out in 2014, but more recent research released by Which? last month revealed that Aldi was still 19 percent cheaper on average than the Big Four supermarkets.

The research took a theoretical trolley full of 108 groceries and household essentials which cost £111 at Aldi, the cheapest of all supermarkets surveyed.

Compared to Tesco, there was a saving of £29, while the same trolley at Sainsbury’s was £144 and Morrisons £143 – a saving of more than £1,500-a-year by shopping weekly at Aldi.

During the same series, the pair also compared the price of ice cream among the Big Four, the German discounters and the market leader.

Mr Maitland then tried three different ice creams at various price ranges.

He said: “Now taste tests, as I’m about to find out, are not quite as straightforward as you might think.

“I bet I can tell the difference though, I know this is the cheap one because it is smaller, I mean it looks okay.

“That is the cheap one, the middle one is the in-between and the most expensive one is the one I’ve just had.”

But, Ms Bloor revealed the shocking results to him.

She added: “You’re right about the middle one, that’s the mainstream supermarket – Tesco.

“But you’re completely wrong about the other two.

The brand leader is the one you said was the cheap one – Cornetto.

“And then this one – your favourite – is Lidl.”

Stunned by the news, Mr Maitland stated: “I must say, I’m staggered.”

Ms Bloor then revealed the results of Good Housekeeping’s full survey in 2014.

She continued: “When we did an entire taste test, the winner was Sainsbury’s, but by a very very close second, was Lidl.

“It was literally a photo finish.

“And then the one you would all expect to do really well – Cornetto – was sixth.”

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