Supermarkets ‘inflating’ wine prices

4th November, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

A study by price comparison site mySupermaket has found that the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda artificially inflate wine prices before slashing them in order to give the appearance of a bargain.

Tesco's Ogio is frequently sold on promotion

Tesco’s Ogio is frequently sold on promotion

The website found a zig-zag pattern to prices it tracked for a year at key UK supermarkets, where 60% of wine is sold on promotion.

Confirming what many in the wine industry have known for years, Sainsbury’s former director of wine, Allan Cheeseman, accused some offers of being “blatantly manufactured”.

“You’ll see a Mondelli or an Ogio on sale for a very high price for a period of time, then discounted massively. The problem is that as a nation we have become promotion junkies,” he said.

A bottle of Ogio Pinot Grigio at Tesco selling at “half price” over the weekend for £5.49 cost £9.99 in October last year and £4.99 in July.

60% of supermarket wines are sold on promotion

60% of supermarket wines are sold on promotion

Torretta di Mondelli Pinot Grigio meanwhile, cost £9.99 at Sainsbury’s in April, £4.99 in September and is now priced at £5.32, down from £7.99, “saving” 33%.

The offers are not illegal however, as rules on price establishment require only that the higher price cited in the promotion has applied for 28 consecutive days.

Wine writer Oz Clarke believes some wine is not even worth its “sale” price.

“The only way to make a profit out of these wines they sell so many bottles of is if the wine was never worth more than £5 in the first place,” he said.

The supermarkets have denied any wrongdoing. “Our simple aim is to offer the lowest prices for the longest,” said a spokesperson for Asda.

“Prices are highly dependent on factors that vary, from harvest yields to transport costs and duties.

“We work hard to mitigate these and keep prices down, including reductions and promotions,” offered a spokesperson from Sainsbury’s.

Tesco meanwhile, commented: “We realise that not every wine will be to the particular taste of every customer, but our half-price wine offers remain popular, indicating customers are satisfied with both the quality and value for money.”

The research is based on supermarket websites, so omits Morrisons, while Aldi does not sell wine on offer.

2 Responses to “Supermarkets ‘inflating’ wine prices”

  1. Brian Julyan says:

    Tesco’s Comment: “We realise that not every wine will be to the particular taste of every customer, but our half-price wine offers remain popular, indicating customers are satisfied with both the quality and value for money” has no mileage. The majority of customers realise that the normal prices are inflated and they will avoid buying them at these prices whenever possible so when the so called “offers” are available they will make more purchases. Customers now have little choice for wine purchases other than from the supermarkets as the supermarkets drove the traditional wine shops out of business by undercutting them. It is a virtual monopoly.

  2. Steve M says:

    Interesting that a study has showed this but hardly news. Supermarkets have so much power over consumer wine habits that it would have long term benefits for our industry as a whole and for the general public if we didn’t always end up down the garden path when it comes to the honest value of wine. We are too reliant on discount offers to buy wine – and retailers are dependent on it to sell wine.

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