Why Is Lurpak Suddenly So Expensive?

This is no way to butter us up.
Lurpak
Lurpak
Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen via Reuters

The cost of living crisis has struck again – and this time, beloved butter brand Lurpak has been hit.

Food prices have been climbing for months now but the stark reality of the current economy became evident on Tuesday, when the public clocked a large tub of Lurpak is now on sale for more than £9 in some supermarkets.

But the household name, known for being a combination of milk fat and rapeseed oil, does seem to be a different price in different stores.

In Asda, it’s risen to £6 for 750g (so £8 per kilogram) – and now comes with an added security tag.

On Sainsbury’s online, it’s £7.25 for a 750g tub (making it £9.67 per kilogram).

In Tesco, it’s £8.98 per kilo (or £4.49 per 500g), and in Iceland it’s £5 for 500g – making it £10 per kilo – while over in Morrisons it is £4.99 for 500g (or 9.98 per kilo). It’s almost exactly the same price on Ocado’s website too.

The lowest prices appear to be from Co-op, where 500g of Lurpak is available for £3.50, making it £7 per kilogram, and Waitrose where 500g of the highly sought-after butter is selling for £3.75 (£7.50 per kilo).

So why has this happened?

A huge rise in food prices has been anticipated for some time, as inflation hits a 40-year-high at 9.1%.

The cost of groceries increased to 4.3% in May, up from 3.5% in April, making prices the highest since April 2012, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Around two million Brits has also admitted to skipping at least one meal a day to cut costs.

Kantar also found that the average shopper is going to be spending £380 more on food alone this year.

Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England has previously warned that there will be “apocalyptic” food price rises, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine has been dubbed the “world’s food basket” due to its grain exports, but it is also responsible much of the global cooking oil production and fuel production.

As part of its attack, Russia has been blocking Ukrainian ports meaning it’s harder for the rest of the world to access these vital supplies.

Even so, Arla Foods’ chief commercial officer Peter Giortz-Carlsen – whose company sells Lurpak – said he had “never seen anything like it” back in May, telling Sky News that dairy farmers are losing money due to the rising cost of fertiliser and fuel.

Supermarkets and manufacturers have blamed the price rise on the war in Ukraine and the global fuel crisis.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said the price of each product is down to factors including manufacturer’s costs, but “we are doing all we can to mitigate rising costs where we can”.

A spokesperson for Arla Foods also told The Independent: “While we don’t set the prices on the shelves, we do work closely with the retailers to ensure our farmers receive a fair price for the milk they produce.

“Prices on the shelves have had to rise in recent months to ensure our farmers can continue supplying the products that we all enjoy.”

Similarly, Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s chief executive, warned that pressures “will only intensify over the remainder of the year” for the household grocery budgets.

Should we expect all products to increase this much in price?

Tesco actually got in a row with Heinz over some of its products this week, claiming it had put its prices up too much. This suggests other supermarkets could similarly intervene when it comes to price rises, like with Lurpak.

However, a stern warning came from The Consumer Action Group, Marc Gander, who said that people should be alarmed but “they had better stop being shocked because that’s the way it’s going”.

Gander did also add: “There are lots of other alternatives around including own brands which are very much cheaper.

“It’s a mystery why Lurpak has to be nearly £10 a kilo when own brands are often about half of that amount.”

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