News and events


Supermarket pricing means some Christmas shoppers are paying 1000% more for Brussels sprouts

Christmas shoppers could find themselves paying up to 1000% more for their sprouts this December because of confusing prices at UK supermarkets.

Depending on which of the big stores you visit will dictate whether you either pay £1 or £11 for a kilo of Brussels.

As part of Loughborough University’s Christmas and New Year campaign, which aims to alleviate seasonal stress and promote wellbeing, economist Dr Jon Seaton looked at the festive food favourite and the cheapest places to buy them.

He found that the prices among the eight biggest supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, ASDA, Waitrose, Ocado, Iceland and Lidl – differed by 1000%.

The true prices were disguised in such a way that all the varieties were packaged up in £1 to £1.99 packs.

So, unless shoppers went to the trouble of comparing the cost of a kilo, typically in the smaller print, they would be unaware of how much or how little they were paying.

“All of the prices for packs of sprouts fall within £1 and £1.99, at all of the supermarkets,” said Dr Seaton, a Reader in business economics.

“But the weights will differ drastically – from 100g up to 1kg – which means so does the price per kilo.”


No. of products

Lowest price per kilo

Highest price per kilo

Lowest price per pack

Highest price per pack

















































Dr Seaton added that he found, in one store: loose sprouts, stem sprouts, red sprouts, large packs, trimmed, farm sprouts, sprout tops, baby sprouts, as well as other varieties with added ingredients such as bacon, or butter.

“As you walk the aisles, you the shopper, with all the other items also on your mind, will simply pick up what you guess to be the cheapest, as its £1 plus something and put it in your trolley.

“A single supermarket can have up to eight kinds of sprout packs, and the pricing is done in such a way that you can’t easily compare each pack, for example stem or tree sprouts there is no price per kilo of the sprouts, they are normally sold as a whole vegetable.

“In some cases, the price per kilo is shown on the shelves – but, it’s in a much smaller font and because people are in a hurry and see a particular price highlighted, they assume they’re getting the best deal as it’s a pound something.

“A word of warning, highlighted prices are sometimes the most expensive.”

The same method for clouding the comparative cost of very similar items extends through the supermarkets, said Dr Seaton.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate the ‘deals’:

  • Supermarkets will have great offers and prices on the top sellers over Christmas, so great deals on turkeys, seasonal vegetables and alcohol – but they are magically levitating prices on the other everyday products you habitually pick up on the way round the aisles
  • Beware of the increasing array of expensive ‘healthy alternatives’ – generally, most food is healthy in moderation – so don’t be sucked in by gimmicks.
  • Draw up a list – don't buy just anything, buy what you want and discuss this soberly with your nearest and dearest - look them up online and compare retailers.
  • Check prices on bulk-buys – sometimes the retailers can make the larger sizes much more expensive as they know you will automatically go for them.
  • Be mindful that packaged fresh fruit or veg might not be cheaper – it’s very convenient and seems helpful but is often more expensive than loose.
  • A hungry shopper buys more – the longer you shop the more you buy and if you get a ‘great deal’ you often reward yourself with a treat, especially at the end of the trip.
  • The longer you wait until you shop for your Christmas dinner items the more chance you have of getting deals – by Christmas Eve store managers know it’s their last opportunity to sell stuff, like turkeys, which will useless by the end of the day. This is big gamble though, sometimes they are sold out!
  • Some Brussels sprouts prices are dropping towards Christmas, but retailers will not call these price cuts or offers, sometimes they silently and surreptitiously drop the price per kilo by simply increasing pack size. Keep a 'buy if price/price per kilo is below' list of your favourite Xmas goodies.

Loughborough University’s Christmas and New Year health and wellbeing campaign is aimed at using the knowledge and experience of academics and professionals to give advice about physical and mental wellness over the festive season and into next year.

Follow the latest campaign content by searching for the #LboroExperts hashtag on Twitter, or on our Facebook page, Snapchat account and YouTube channel.


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/172

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018, 7th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 and 10th in The UK Complete University Guide 2018. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.