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Are Lidl customers being codded with this fishy price hike?

Pricewatch: Irish grocery inflation has continued to fall in recent months, so why are some prices on the chain’s shelves bucking the trend?

Thomas Ryan first noticed something fishy going on at his local Lidl in May of last year, so he got in touch to find out if he was being codded.

“I have been following your coverage of price drops in the large chains recently, for milk, butter, etc,” he wrote back then. “I happened to notice that while cutting their prices on dairy, Lidl have been stealthily increasing prices on other lesser-bought items.”

He cited the example of four breaded and battered cod fillets. In April of 2023 the product cost €2.99 and it had climbed to €3.09 by May 4th. “More than a 3 per cent hike in the space of 10 days, at a time when they are promising to look at their prices,” he wrote.

He got back on to us in September with a fresh update. “The battered cod fillets are now €3.59, up 16 per cent since May, which is on top of the price hike that occurred in April,” he wrote. “So much for falling grocery prices in the larger chains.”


Our price-watching correspondent wasn’t done. In December he sent a follow-up email on “the ever-increasing price of these cod fillets in Lidl”. He was less than pleased to note that the price had climbed to €3.79.

“I’m fascinated by this,” he wrote. “That’s 20 cents more than September and 70 cents more than May. That’s a 24 per cent increase in eight months, at a time when inflation is moderating, and when Lidl says it’s cutting prices. Baffling in one sense. But I suspect it’s part of a wider strategy,” he suggested, wondering if Lidl was “subtly increasing prices of lower-profile items while cutting prices on more popular goods”.

Ryan still wasn’t done, however. At the end of January he got in touch again. “Incredibly, they have gone up another 20 cents since December. They’re now €3.99 – a full €1 increase since last April or over 33 per cent.”

He documented the increases in photographs, which he sent us.

“Inflation has eased dramatically since late summer, and yet this item has skyrocketed in that time,” he said. “This seems extraordinary when you consider the round-the-clock ads Lidl now have about cutting prices on loads of items. They’re clearly cutting some prices and quietly hiking others.”

By this stage he had us hooked – and so we took the bait.

Ryan is right when he points out that Irish grocery inflation has continued to fall in recent months. The latest figures from retail analysts Kantar World Panel put the rate in the four weeks to January 21st, 2024, at 5.9 per cent. That compares with inflation of 7.1 per cent in December and a rate of 16.4 per cent in March of last year.

He is also correct when he notes that Lidl has been boasting about price falls up and down the aisles since the autumn.

So we contacted them to find out what was going on with the cod.

We got a response from Lidl which we don’t believe is overly illuminating about the specifics of our reader’s query, but we will let you be the judge. This is what the statement says, in full:

“Rising inflation, energy and labour costs as well as political instability and war in Europe are all factors that impact on the food supply chain and prices of products. Our team are consistently looking for ways to increase efficiencies and reduce costs in our own operations to help absorb any additional costs as best as possible, and we remain committed to maintaining our position as Ireland’s best-value retailer.

“We have a range of locally sourced white fish products including Irish Hake Fillets and Irish Haddock Fillets which have maintained their price of €3.49. Our promise to customers is that we won’t be beaten on price, and we have maintained the lowest price on frozen battered or breaded cod fillets on price per kg versus competitors on like-for-like products over the past 11 months, despite unprecedented challenges in the supply chain.”