- Tesco is charging £2.65 (£3.40 per 100g) for its Finest Parma Ham, for example
- Lidl has priced its Deluxe Prosciutto at £1.99 (£2.21 per 100g) - a saving of more than a third, according to C4 investigation
- Asda charges £1.67 (£0.76 per 100g) for its Extra Special Blue Stilton, Aldi has priced its Mature Blue Stilton at £1.49 (£0.67 per 100g); original supplier is same
Supermarkets have been accused of hoodwinking shoppers during the holiday period by charging different prices for almost identical products.
Many of these items even come from the same supplier – but the only clue lies in the product code which appears in small print on the packaging.
While Tesco is charging £2.65 (£3.40 per 100g) for its Finest Parma Ham, for example, Lidl has priced its Deluxe Prosciutto at £1.99 (£2.21 per 100g), a saving of more than a third, according to a Channel 4 investigation.
And while Asda charges £1.67 (£0.76 per 100g) for its Extra Special Blue Stilton, Aldi has priced its Mature Blue Stilton at £1.49 (£0.67 per 100g), a difference of about 12 per cent. Yet the original supplier is the same.
Even branded products have got in on the act. KP's Hula Hoops, which cost £1.70 at Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda, and Aldi's 99p Snackrite hoops, are made in the same factory.
Earlier this year, dozens of consumers found packets of Hula Hoops mistakenly included inside bigger bags of Aldi's own-brand potato snack rings and vice-versa.
Michelin-starred chef Kevin Love, who has previously helped develop some of Lidl's own-label products, told Luxury Christmas For Less: 'The biggest secret is that a lot of those own-brand products are made in the same factories as the branded products.
The programme, hosted by Helen Skelton and Sabrina Grant, revealed that shoppers are being charged more for fresh turkeys than frozen ones – even if they seem to be of similar quality.
Tesco's Finest Frozen Free Range Bronze Turkey is 27 per cent cheaper than its fresh equivalent, for example.
And customers are being charged nearly twice as much for a turkey crown (minus the legs and wings) than a whole turkey: Morrisons The Best Large Whole Turkey costs £6.75 a kilo, compared with £12.75 a kilo for its The Best Large Turkey Crown while Tesco's Whole Frozen Turkey costs £4.35 a kilo compared to £8.34 a kilo for a frozen crown.
Turkey farmer and breeder Paul Kelly said: 'Fifty-five per cent of people in the UK buy a crown. Why? You've bought the whole bird it came off… So you are paying twice as much for a crown as the whole bird. It's a no-brainer.'
Other strategies that shops deploy in the run-up to Christmas include charging people a premium for gift wrapping.
A Thorntons £7 (pre-wrapped) gift-wrapped box of chocolates costs 40 per cent more than the £4.99 unwrapped version.
Pre-slicing is also expensive. Waitrose Stollen and Tesco Iced Fruit Cake Slices are a third more expensive per gram than the uncut versions. 'The supermarkets are playing mind games and we're programmed to lose,' Helen Skelton tells the viewers.
The British Retail Consortium said: 'There has been a greater focus on savvy shopping… Retailers are responding accordingly. This is why we continue to see a wide range of products which are competitively priced, providing the customer with both excellent choice and value.'
Luxury Christmas For Less is at 8pm on Channel 4 tomorrow.