Good Food Blog
Asda sausages - a smart price?Posted at 10:23AM, 11 June 2008 by Karyn Miller - Journalist
The shriek echoes around the house. A spatula clatters on the floor. My mother-in-law has just discovered that the sausages about to be dished up to the hungry guests at her breakfast table are not her preferred luxury brand, but Asda's 2p versions.
The offending sausages are mine; in the rush to prepare breakfast, she has grabbed the packet without thinking. The penny drops when she reaches for the ketchup and finds her own sausages still on the shelf.
'I can't feed people that...that slurry!' she hisses. 'What will they think?'
She isn't the only one with colourful views. The supermarket has attracted a string of headlines after reducing its economy range sausages to just 16p for a packet of eight. Asda has cited the credit crunch as the reason for its price cut, noting, 'We thought the idea of a 2p sausage would be welcome news in the aisles.'
'Of course people want cheap food, just like they want gas-guzzling four-wheel drives, cheap flights, flat screen TV's in every room and the freedom to binge-drink.', says Bob Farrand
Bob Farrand, the Guild of Fine Food's national director, is not happy. 'Hardly a thought either for British farming, or for the state of fatso Britain's diet', he has railed. 'Of course people want cheap food, just like they want gas-guzzling four-wheel drives, cheap flights, flat screen TV's in every room and the freedom to binge-drink.'
I went to my local Asda to see what all the fuss was about. At the checkout, the sales assistant gingerly plucked my 'Smartprice' sausages from the conveyor belt. Uncooked sausages are rarely attractive, but these specimens are particularly unappetising. Crumpled cellophane encases squidged, anaemic-looking meat.
When cooked, the sausages are surprisingly mouthwatering. They keep their shape and brown nicely. Even so, the breakfast guests gathered round for an impromptu taste test are unimpressed.
'The consistency of porridge', says one; 'like eating diluted sausage', says another. Many economy sausages contain around 50 per cent meat; the Asda version, just 34 per cent. Rusk and water provide bulk, but add nothing to the taste.
We conclude that one wouldn't buy these sausages 'out of choice'. And perhaps this is why Asda's argument has some merit. We all know that bottom-end bangers are filled with bottom-end ingredients - described in toe-curling detail in this Guardian report. We know that British pig farming has been crippled by the supermarkets' drive for bottom-end prices. We know that we can buy top-quality sausages for less than three pounds a packet.
Even so, the people buying 2p sausages are unlikely to begin contributing to the premium food economy anytime soon. These shoppers are after filler - not good food. Wandering around Asda, I noticed that a number of trolleys were stuffed with 'Smartprice' and reduced items; in the current climate, household budgets are under scrutiny. The people pushing the trolleys were not smiling.
Frankly, it's difficult to imagine anyone buying up 2p sausages if they could afford something - anything - a little better. If a shopper must resort to buying bottom-end products such as these, who are we to criticise?