Pre-packed foods can be more expensive on the shelves of Tesco and Asda than from the counters of Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason, research reveals.
Pre-packed products sold at the giant supermarket chains were even more expensive than fresh versions of the same items at the deli sections of the luxury London stores.
The findings from consumer site Can I Eat It? may surprise shoppers who think they are saving money by avoiding the fresh food counters in favour of the shelves.
The food and drink site discovered prices of some packaged products were far higher than the fresh versions from deli counters, even in the same supermarket chains.
For instance, a packet of Wiltshire Cured Ham slices costs the equivalent of £2.50 per 100g from Tesco, £2.31 from Asda and even more, £2.69 from Waitrose. But the same ham slices from the deli counter at Fortnum & Mason, one of the most upmarket grocery stores in the UK, costs just £2.
Pre-packed pastrami slices in Asda cost £1.82 per 100g yet in London’s Selfridges food hall was slightly less at £1.80 per 100g at the deli counter.
Waitrose shoppers may think their store is pricey but not realise it can be even more expensive than Harrods. Pre-packed ox tongue from the shelves of a suburban Waitrose costs £2.69 per 100g yet is just £2.50 per 100g from the counter at Harrods.
Can I Eat It? founder Martin Isark said: “Pre-packed food rarely tastes as good as the fresh food from the supermarkets counters.
“Unfortunately, most shoppers don’t bother to wait their turn at these counters.
“That’s a big mistake, as most are very much cheaper, and often as not better quality.
“Indeed, Can I Eat It has checked the prices and found some of the pre-packed meats are astonishingly more expensive than ones from Fortnum & Mason, Harrods & Selfridges.
“When the super posh shops are selling deli products cheaper than our British supermarkets pre-packed products, then they must be too expensive.”
Packaged products may be more expensive because of the cost of packaging itself, transporting and labelling the products to EU specifications, Mr Isark added.
Mr Isark, a professional food and drink taster, said: “A lot of investment goes into packaging.
“Packaging has to be tough and robust to withstand any damage and they have to adhere to EU laws regarding ingredients, allergens and nutritional values. Deli products do not have to add this information to the product – you need to ask the assistant about it.
“Packaging has to be sufficient to preserve the product for several days and many contain antibacterial and anti-fungal properties sprayed or pumped into the packets.”