Half Mag / Half Zine

The price of Heinz ketchup has doubled in the last two years – according to researchers from Which? A study found that a 460g bottle has seen the largest average price increase, rising by 53pc across the supermarkets.

The red mealtime staple has soared from £1.74 to £2.65 – prompting us to reconsider if brand is really best. We put three supermarket own-brand versions to the test – and perhaps to the surprise of some, Heinz was squeezed out. The famous tomato sauce lagged behind two supermarket brands – with one supermarket brand delivering all the flavour notes of the Heinz classic while being sold at less than half the price.

For this tasting, we tested it with a classic pairing – a plate of hot crunchy golden chips.

Some were very sweet, while others were extremely vinegary. Textures ranged from a smooth emulsified sauce to one with little chunks of tomato in it.

Each participant in my test was asked to focus on aroma, texture, taste and appearance.

Heinz tomato ketchup – 7/10

It’s very, very sweet but balanced well by the level of vinegar. You could argue that is the point of ketchup. Lovely and smooth with a nice mouth-feel, has a bit of a zing to it.

Tesco tomato ketchup – 3/10

£1 for 555g

It’s got an odd texture and feels like it’s been watered-down. It tastes like artificial tomatoes. I don’t like it, not tomatoey at all. Tastes like wet socks and is extremely runny. Disproves my theory that even bad ketchup is passable. Will use for fake blood at Halloween, rather than on chips.

Lidl tomato ketchup – 8/10

45p for 500g

It has a classic ketchup flavour, with a bit of a salsa vibe. Lovely texture and actually tastes like tomatoes. Feels fresh. My favourite. Velvety smooth, perfect for dunking, and look at the price difference when compared with Heinz.

Once again, the cut-price supermarket has proven it can perform extremely well against the more established chains in the UK. A triumph.

Sainsbury’s tomato ketchup – 4/10

65p for 460g

Very vinegary but also somehow very bland? No sweetness. Has a bitter aftertaste. The ketchup tastes like I left it in the cupboard for ten years and then decided to put it on my chips. Will not eat again. It’s rather gloopy too. I had thought this could be a winner from the consistency but sadly not.

The final verdict

Lidl have smashed it out of the park not only on flavour but also on price. This is the ketchup you want to accompany your burgers, bangers and bacon.

Growing up, buying anything other than Heinz ketchup would have been sacrilege and we’d have sussed out if it we were handed something we deemed inferior.

It wouldn’t cross my mind to buy anything else but this taste test shows it’s worth shopping around and trying the cheaper alternatives – especially as the cost of living crisis rages on.

Surprisingly, my unscientific findings are backed up by previous research – with a survey in 2011 reporting Heinz coming second to last in a league table of 13 tomato sauces.

It may be the nation’s favourite but a survey of 130 shoppers saw it perform badly, with tasters describing its flavour as ‘artificial, bitter and vinegary’.

In this hard-hitting research, Heinz didn’t even score in the top 10. Along with Aldi ’s sauce, it came joint second from bottom – just above last-placed Daddies.

Sue Davies, Which? head of food policy, said: “Our research shows the shocking rate of inflation on some of the nation’s favourite branded foods, which is much higher than the national average.

“It highlights why it is so important for retailers to provide people with a choice of product ranges.”