Christmas puddingGeoff Kirby/Press Association Images

A taste test in Good Housekeeping concluded that a £7.99 Christmas pudding from Aldi was far superior to a £24.95 pudding from Fortnum & Mason.

So why did it beat the posh pudding, which one eventually won, and why shouldn't we be surprised?


The test

The taste test, in the latest issue of Good Housekeeping, covered a variety of festive favourites, but the real surprise was in the Christmas pudding category.

In all, the team tested 32 Christmas puddings. The winner was the cherry and almond-topped pudding, with edible glitter, from Waitrose, which it said had a 'lovely warm boozy, zesty orange flavour.' The pudding has a price tag of £14.99.


Second place went to the budget pudding from Aldi: the orange-topped Christmas pudding cost £7.99 and was described as 'delicious.'

Meanwhile, Fortnum & Mason's £24.95 pudding scraped into 29th place, and was described as a 'real disappointment'.

The Queen's favourite department store also did poorly in the cranberry sauce test, coming in last place to the winning £1.49 jar from Tesco.

Good Housekeeping consumer director Caroline Bloor said: "Our annual Good Housekeeping Tried and Tested special on festive foods proves you don't need to bust the budget buying expensive names to treat everyone to something special. In most categories, the overall winner is from a high street supermarket. If you're going to splash out, save your money for the smoked salmon and mince pies."

No surprise

The strong showing of the budget chain seems surprising, but shouldn't be. In fact it did reasonably in many of the other categories, and was runner-up in the smoked salmon category, won by Scottish producer Uig Lodge.

And this isn't the first time Aldi has stormed consumer tests. Good Housekeeping named Adi's Valdobbiadene Prosecco as its favourite - at just £6.99 - earlier this year.

It's own-brand Magnum dishwasher tabs were named a Best Buy by Which? this year too. And it's own brand Bramwells Real Mayonnaise scored as highly as any other on taste, and was named another best buy by the consumer association.

Likewise Aldi's Almat Bio Washing Powder was named as the top Best Buy (82%) offering great value, and costing just 10p a wash - less than half the price of the Ariel Best Buy (78%). In fact, this year, Which? named it Supermarket of the Year. Tony Baines, Managing Director of Buying, Aldi Stores UK, said: "Being awarded Supermarket of the Year is a real reflection of Aldi's success in 2012. Sales are going from strength to strength, and we're welcoming new shoppers every day. We believe this is down to our commitment to always deliver high quality products at low prices."

Why?

The fact is that a huge number of things drive pricing. The quality and price of the ingredients is just one factor. There are also savings to be made on the ways in which the producers and the supermarkets themselves are run. If you don't run expensive marketing campaigns and pricey loyalty card schemes, then you can afford to cut prices.

In some cases, you definitely get what you pay for, and the quality is undeniable of the most expensive products. But in other cases there are some definite gems that are worth seeking out, which combine quality with bargain prices.

But what do you think? Are the expensive suppliers worth the money? Or do you prefer the bargains? Let us know in the comments.



More stories