Which Norfolk supermarket has the lowest prices? We went bargain hunting

A shopper with a basket in a supermarket

Our reporter went out bargain-hunting in Norwich's supermarkets - and we're going to do this every month to help track food prices - Credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Do you know which Norfolk supermarket sells orange juice a pound cheaper than its rivals? Or where you can save 2p a litre on your petrol?

Whose eggs are 10p cheaper per dozen, and whose apples are 40p more?

Today as part of our Your Money Matters campaign the Investigation Unit launches its own local price tracker.

We have visited branches of each of the “big four” supermarkets in Norwich to price check two dozen popular household items. 

This price tracker will appear each month alongside other measures of inflation and analysis of their effects.

This is not an attempt to replicate the UK’s national inflation tracking “basket”, which contains thousands of items and is monitored by the Office of National Statistics, but it is a chance for us to keep an eye on a representative selection of a few products in the supermarkets on our doorstep.

We visited Morrisons in the Riverside retail park, Sainsbury’s on Queens Road, Tesco on Ipswich Road and Asda on Hall Road.

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In this, our first monthly shop, we do not have previous examples to compare to, although we do know that according to market analysts Kantar, food price inflation hit 4.3pc in the UK in February, a 10-year high.

And we know overall inflation hit seven per cent this week, a 30-year high, while experts believe the lowest-income families will experience inflation rates of closer to 20pc this year due to the percentage of their income they spend on items which are rocketing in price, including energy.

Our shop did reveal a few bargains to be had, as well as sales techniques to watch out for to make your pound stretch as far as possible.

Asda comes out on top for the fresh produce in our selection, with gala apples, bags of salad, heads of broccoli all noticeably cheaper than at the other supermarkets.

A bag of six royal gala apples from Morrisons

A bag of six royal gala apples cost £1.59 in Morrisons in Norwich on April 14, but only £1.39 in the city's Asda - Credit: Joel Adams

Bread and milk prices were very tight: a four pint bottle of milk was £1.29 at Morrisons and £1.25 at the other three, while a loaf of wholemeal Hovis bread was £1.10 at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda, and at Morrisons the same product was £1.20 for one loaf, or £2 for two.

That reveals one key piece of advice for any savvy shopper: go for the deals if - and it’s a big if - you know they represent a real saving.

For instance a standard 900ml carton of Tropicana orange juice is priced at £2.75 in most places - but if you have the fridge space Morrisons are offering two for £3. 

Sometimes though a rival can blow the special deals out of the water by holding a price low: at Sainsbury’s the Tropicana is a whole pound cheaper at £1.75

However some basics don’t change: a kilo of chicken breasts currently costs £5.25 to £5.50, and half a kilo of pasta costs 70p or 75p, regardless of which of the four you buy them from.

A kilo of chicken breasts from Asda

The price of chicken was very consistent: between £5.25 and £5.50 for a kilo of breasts - Credit: Joel

This tracker is not an attempt to source the very cheapest “value” or budget items, although there are excellent online resources for those seeking to do exactly that, including cookingonabootstrap.com by Jack Monroe, a leading food poverty campaigner.

In most cases we have used branded products - McCain oven chips, Andrex toilet paper, Heinz ketchup - for ease of comparison between retailers. 

Hannah Worsley, from the Norwich Foodbank, said: “People have been saying that the cost of living increase means they've had to use a foodbank for the first time, I think that is a consistent thing we're seeing. 

"At the moment it feels slightly busier than normal but not crazy like at the beginning of the first lockdown

"I want people to know that, although we wish food banks weren't necessary, we are here to help.

Project manager at Norwich food bank Hannah Worsley. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Hannah Worsley of the Norwich Foodbank wants clients not to worry there may be "someone worse off" - Credit: Nick Butcher

"People think it's shameful, or that there's someone worse off, and they convince themselves not to come, but if you're referred to us you should come and get the help and advice we can give."

She sent a "huge thank you" to generous donors and volunteers.

Our new price tracker is launched amid a perfect storm of inflationary pressures which are set to bring on the sharpest cost of living squeeze since the 1970s.

Petrol prices rose by nearly 13p a litre between February and March, the sharpest rise since records began 1990.

Household bills have soared, with a 54 per cent increase in the energy price cap leading to an average increase of nearly £700.

Air passenger duty, water bills, the cost of postage, and rail fares have also all gone up, as have interest rates which knocks on to higher mortgage repayments.

The Bank of England has warned that inflation could hit double digits if the energy price cap goes up again in October as many believe it will have to do.

Our cost of living survey has now closed - click here for the results