The Basket Of Goods Comparison: The ASA Rules On Aldi's Xmas Dinner

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP


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Competition between the UK's major supermarkets is never more fierce than in the run up to Christmas.
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Competition between the UK's major supermarkets is never more fierce than in the run up to Christmas. With the average consumer spending 20% more on food in December compared to the rest of the year1, supermarkets must capture the spending power of their consumers during this period. A popular tool for retailers to draw in customers is through a "basket of goods" price comparison. These advertisements typically feature a selection of goods from a named competitor, which are compared with a similar selection of goods from the advertising retailer indicating how much consumers could save. When conducting price comparisons, UK supermarkets should ensure their comparisons meet the requirements of the UK's Advertising Standards Authority ('ASA').

In a recent ruling, the ASA found an Aldi advert claiming it was "BRITAIN'S CHEAPEST CHRISTMAS DINNER" was misleading and not substantiated. Of particular note, Aldi was found to have misled consumers as the price comparisons used were based on November prices, and therefore were not reflective of the updated and more competitive prices in the lead up to Christmas.2


Published on 6 December 2023, Aldi's wrap-around newspaper advertisement featured images of a whole roast turkey with all the trimmings, with text stating "THE HOME OF BRITAIN'S CHEAPEST CHRISTMAS DINNER". A roundel stated "REVIEWED BY Which? Budget-friendly Christmas Dinner" and text in a box underneath stated "2022 PRICE LOCKED". Small text at the bottom of the page stated "Which? checked the prices of 12 traditional Christmas dinner staples between 6 and 27 November at seven UK supermarkets and found Aldi to be a budget-friendly supermarket for a Christmas dinner shop". Finally, there was a price comparison with Sainsbury's which featured various Christmas items priced at £44.81, compared with Aldi's £33.80. The text read "Swap & Save over 20% on your Christmas dinner", based on "results published by Which?".

Unhappy with the comparison, Sainsbury's challenged whether the comparative claims were misleading and could be substantiated, whether they were verifiable and whether the claim "2022 PRICE LOCKED" was misleading.

The ASA's assessment

Were the claims misleading?

The ASA ruled that the advert was misleading for several reasons.

Significantly, as mentioned above, the advert was misleading because the price comparison was not representative of prices during the period when consumers would be purchasing fresh produce for their Christmas dinner. Supermarkets generally introduce final prices and promotions for Christmas foods in the last week before Christmas, and perishable items are purchased closer to the event. The comparisons provided by Which? were only relevant for 6 to 27 of November, and this relevant date range was provided in the advert in writing deemed too small for the average consumer to notice.

Although the advertisement explained that Which? was used to substantiate the claim, it only compared seven UK supermarkets. This text was again too small to counteract the impression that the total cost of Christmas dinner at Aldi would be cheaper than all other British supermarkets.

The ASA also found that consumers would assume the goods pictured were the goods used in the Which? report. However, the image featured a whole turkey, whilst the comparison was based on a turkey crown. The image also featured stuffing and Yorkshire puddings, which were not included in the Which? comparison.

Finally, the ASA found that the "2022 PRICE LOCKED" claim did not reflect that the "price lock" excluded several products in the advert and therefore was misleading as to which products were covered.

Were the comparative claims substantiated?

Aldi was unable to substantiate their "CHEAPEST CHRISTMAS DINNER" claim as their only evidence came from Which?. Whilst Which? is an authoritative resource, Aldi as the advertiser was responsible for holding adequate evidence to substantiate those claims.

Additionally, the advert did not reflect the differences in product weights between supermarkets as accounted for by Which?. The ASA found that this comparison was unclear and not adequately substantiated.

Further, the ASA considered that consumers would think Aldi is materially cheaper than budget supermarket competitor Lidl, when the savings were only negligible (a difference of 4p). Consumers would be unlikely to consider additional costs such as transport to the shop itself. Given the negligible difference between Aldi and Lidl, Aldi's "CHEAPEST CHRISTMAS DINNER" claim was not substantiated.

Were the comparative claims verifiable?

Adverts which make a comparison with an identifiable competitor must include, or direct consumers to, information to allow them to understand and check the accuracy of the comparison. Here, the ASA found that Aldi's claims were not verifiable.

The final page of the wrap-around advert included the text "According to results published by Which?, Aldi's Christmas dinner came in at over 20% cheaper than Sainsbury's. For more information, please visit" in small print. The ASA found that the wording indicated consumers could find information about the comparison with Sainsbury's on that webpage, but not the information about the comparison with all supermarkets, meaning Aldi did not sufficiently verify the claim. Additionally, the ASA found that readers would have only seen the first page of the advert rather than the final page of the advert with the relevant information. Any signpost to information verifying the comparative claims should have appeared on both pages where the claims were made.

Key points

The basis of price comparisons must be clear and consistent with the context in which they appear and must be adequately substantiated. Price comparisons which relate to products to be bought during a specific time period must be substantiated by evidence relating to prices that apply during that time period. This decision might make it especially difficult for retailers to make such claims in anticipation of specific upcoming events whether religious festivities or major sporting events.

Additional valuable lessons for UK businesses that are considering undertaking comparative advertising campaigns include:

  • Adverts featuring comparative claims should not picture any products not included in the comparison.
  • In comparing product prices, the relevant weights or amounts of the product should be provided to reflect a true comparison of cost per unit/weight.
  • Retailers claiming that they have the lowest prices cannot substantiate such claims on the basis of negligible price differences.
  • Comparative advertisements should provide sufficient information for consumers to be able to verify competitor comparisons for themselves.




The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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