Two TV adverts compared a weekly shop at Aldi with the likes of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. It claimed that a weekly £70 Aldi shop would cost £98 at the big four grocers, an increase of nearly 40 per cent.
The second TV advert compared a £33.04 Aldi basket with a competitor’s equivalent, which it claimed would cost £53.35.
A separate press advert read: “Other supermarkets go up, down, all over the place. But Aldi have ‘everyday low prices’, so you know where you stand,” the commercial said.
The small print at the bottom of the page included text that stated: “Comparison of Aldi products vs products shown. Morrisons may sell ‘own brand’ products at different prices.”
Morrisons and two members of the public said the price comparison was misleading as Aldi’s did not make clear it compared its own-brand products and branded products as opposed to the supermarkets own-brand products that are likely to be cheaper.
Aldi disagreed saying that consumers who saw the commercials were likely to interpret the comparison as intended. The supermarket added that it had demonstrated this with small print shown on screen and at the bottom of the printed adverts.
But the watchdog ruled that the commercial was misleading as consumers would understand that by swapping from shopping at their usual big supermarket to shopping at Aldi they could make significant savings.
ASA also added that price-conscious shoppers were more likely to buy a combination of branded and own-brand goods, which is why the savings suggested by the ads were not accurate.
“The ads implied that by swapping from their usual big supermarket to shopping at Aldi, consumers could make savings of the levels highlighted in the ads rather than presenting the comparison as a representation of the savings which could be made by switching from a largely branded shop to shopping in Aldi,” ASA said.
“We had not seen evidence to demonstrate that was the case we concluded that the ads were misleading. The ads must not appear again in the form complained of," the watchdog concluded.
Matthew Barnes, Aldi’s UK and Ireland chief executive said the grocer was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.
"The use of comparative advertising is a well-established principle and is firmly in the interests of consumers and encourages competition between retailers.
"We will work within this new guidance from the ASA and continue to promote the significant price gap between Aldi's quality, award winning products and their higher priced brand equivalents."
The weaker value of the pound, caused by UK’s decision to leave the EU, could signal the end of cheaper grocery prices for UK consumers, as DEFRA figures estimate that 40 per cent of the food we consumer is now from overseas.
“Historically, higher prices have led to consumers looking for less expensive alternatives such as own-label products, seeking out brands on promotion or visiting cheaper retailers,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.
The combined share of discount retailers Lidl and Aldi has hit a record high of 10.5 per cent, with each holding 4.4 per cent and 6.1 per cent of the market respectively
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