Tesco shoppers looking for pet food brands Whiskas and Pedigree have been left disappointed after supplies were paused in another price row involving the UK’s largest grocer.
The supermarket explained empty shelves by arguing it had refused to “pass on unjustifiable price increases” to its shoppers, The Guardian reported.
In images posted by Steve Dresser, chief executive of advisory firm Grocery Insight, shelves were pictured bare while products also appeared out of stock online.
“With household budgets under increasing pressure, now more than ever we have a responsibility to ensure customers get the best possible value, and we will not pass on unjustifiable price increases to our customers,” a Tesco spokesperson said.
The grocer added that it was sorry that “some products” were not available at the moment but reassured customers there were “plenty of alternatives to choose from.”
“We hope to have this issue resolved soon,” the spokesperson added.
US-owner Mars said it was “aware that some of our petcare products are currently out of stock at Tesco stores” but wanted to reassure pet owners that products were “in supply and remain widely available in the UK marketplace.”
However, Mars said there were “many reasons why our products may be out of stock in certain stores from time to time.”
“We cannot comment on individual commercial relationships or situations,” it added.
The pet food sector was “operating in a volatile context marked by wide-ranging inflationary pressures, and we continue to absorb these rising costs as much as possible,” Mars added.
“The in-store price continues to be at the sole discretion of the retailer,” it stated.
It comes as Tesco is still embroiled in a price row with ketchup and baked beans maker Heinz on a similar issue of suggested price increases.
According to insiders cited in The Guardian, Tesco is hoping to use its position as the largest retailer to fend off price increases, as well as to publicly come out as passionate about protecting shoppers’ budgets.
Last week, Kraft Heinz said it was working with Tesco to “resolve the situation as quickly as possible” and was confident of a positive resolution.
“We always look at how we can provide value through price, size and packs so consumers can enjoy the products they love and trust at a price point that works within their budgets, without compromising on quality,” the company added.