Supermarkets have more than doubled their margins on fuel since the Ukraine war began, according to research from motoring firm the RAC.
The ‘big four’ supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – have seen the profits they make per litre of diesel and petrol rise from 4.7p to 10p since the Russian invasion started in February 2022.
This compares to a margin of 2.3p per litre back in 2016.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “With news that lower fuel prices were one of the main reasons for inflation falling to 7.9 per cent last month, our data clearly shows that this could have been lower still had the supermarkets reduced their pump prices in line with cheaper wholesale costs.”
“Our analysis of wholesale and retail prices reveals the big four supermarkets have benefited considerably on the back of the dramatic wholesale market fluctuations caused by the start of the war in Ukraine.”
Williams explained that supermarket giants had “capitalised on petrol in the early months of the war by upping their margin by 5p litre,” with diesel also up by nearly 8p this year to 15p, despite wholesale prices tumbling.
“Frighteningly, this is twice the average supermarket margin on diesel from 2019 to 2022,” he added.
The CMA’s year-long investigation prompted political pressure, with Grant Shapps meeting supermarket bosses on Monday over how they planned to end the practice of overcharging at the pumps.
On Wednesday, Asda’s co-founder Mohsin Issa appeared before parliament’s Business and Trade Committee to clarify discrepancies between evidence given at a previous hearing and the CMA’s findings.
Asda itself was fined £60,000 by the regulator for failing to co-operate properly with its probe.
On the RAC’s findings, Williams added: “While we accept the cost of running forecourts might have increased, these bloated margins must make difficult reading for the millions of drivers who are already battling the rising cost of living.”
Following its investigation, the CMA called for measures to ensure drivers get fairer prices for fuel, including a new fuel monitoring body to “hold industry to account” and legislation to make fuel retailers provide up to date data on pricing.
A spokesperson for Asda said: “Asda is proud to be a fuel price leader – and an Asda petrol station in a local area keeps prices down for all motorists. In support of calls for greater transparency in fuel pricing, we will be making our prices visible for all of our fuel stations in the coming weeks so motorists can be confident they are getting the best prices when filling up at Asda.”
“Asda’s profits last year were down by more than 20% year-on-year, resulting in a profit of 1.7p for every pound earned. This decrease is a direct result of absorbing inflation to keep grocery prices as low as possible, while investing in new initiatives to help families during the cost-of-living crisis.”
Other supermarket fuel retailers did not comment.