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Mars halts pet food supplies to Tesco

The owner of the pet food brands Whiskas, Pedigree and Cesar has halted supplies to Tesco in the supermarket chain’s latest dispute with a supplier over price rises.

Stocks of Mars Petcare products have shown signs of running low in Tesco stores and online this week, with gaps appearing on shelves.

Suppliers are attempting to pass on rising costs caused by inflationary pressure on raw materials, labour and energy. Supermarkets in turn are seeking to limit price rises for customers.

Mars’s chocolate and confectionery products are not affected by the dispute, which relates to the US food group’s pet food brands.

The dispute with Mars has emerged at a time when Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, is also at loggerheads with Heinz over price increases on baked beans, ketchup and other products. Steve Dresser, chief executive of Grocery Insight, a consultancy, highlighted the supply problems on social media, noting that labels suggested there would be no restocking until July 23.

Tesco, which continues to sell other branded and own-brand pet foods, said: “With household budgets under increasing pressure, now more than ever we have a responsibility to ensure customers get the best possible value, and we will not pass on unjustifiable price increases to them. We’re sorry that this means some products aren’t available right now, but we have plenty of alternatives to choose from and we hope to have this issue resolved soon.”

A spokeswoman for Mars said that the supplier could not comment on “individual commercial relationships or situations”.

She added: “We are aware some of our petcare products are currently out of stock at Tesco. We want to reassure pet owners that their favourite products … remain widely available.”

Mars added: “The pet food industry, like many others, is operating in a volatile context marked by wide-ranging inflationary pressures, and we continue to absorb rising costs as much as possible. The in-store price continues to be at the sole discretion of the retailer.”

Prices on Mars pet food products have been rising at supermarkets. The Grocer, citing data from Assosia, the research firm, reported that a 12-pack of Sheba cat food pouches, for example, had risen 50p to £5 in Asda this week, following an 11.1 per cent increase in Sainsbury’s and Morrisons last month.

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