Mince pies 2010: ASDA and Lidl come out top!

Rachel Wait
by Lovemoney Staff Rachel Wait on 12 December 2010  |  Comments 21 comments

The results of this year's mince pie taste test are in. And once again, Lidl and ASDA have beaten M&S and Waitrose...

Mince pies 2010: ASDA and Lidl come out top!

For the 2012 mince pie taste test results, read The best mince pies for Christmas 2012

It’s that time of year again when mince pies adorn the shop shelves, colourful lights sparkle in the shop windows, and we all feel like our bank balance is being stretched to its limit. Yes, Christmas is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing – it’s time for the lovemoney.com annual mince pie taste test!

Over the past year or so, we’ve conducted several different taste tests and on the whole we’ve found that paying less doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting poorer quality in return. In fact, deep discounter Lidl has proved highly popular, coming out as the overall winner on numerous occasions.

Last year, we revealed that Lidl was also the King when it came to the tastiest mince pies. So we thought it was time to see whether the competition had got any hotter this year.

Will Lidl still offer the best mince pies at the cheapest price, or will one of the major supermarkets steal the trophy for 2010? Let’s find out.

The test

This year, we decided to try mince pies from eight different retailers, as well as taste a popular brand name, Mr Kipling, for good measure.

Where possible, we tasted the standard mince pies from each retailer instead of the luxury range. However, due to recent poor weather conditions, deliveries at Morrisons were sadly lacking, so we tested the ice topped mince pies instead. We also could only get hold of the ‘value’ version of the Tesco mince pies – but thought this would spice things up a little anyway!

We also tried to get hold of packs of six mince pies where possible, although at Lidl only packs of 12 were available.

Eight members of the lovemoney.com staff jumped at the chance to have a taste of these delicious-looking mince pies.

Each mince pie was only identified by a number – so the testers had no idea which mince pie was from which retailer. And as they tasted them, they rated each mince pie out of 10 for the overall look of the pie, the flavour of the mincemeat and the quality of the pastry, to give a total mark out of 30. With eight testers, each mince pie could score a total of 240 points.

The all-important results

So, after a lot of chomping and a few groans about stomach ache, here are those all-important results:

Retailer

Product

Number in pack

Price / price per pie

Total score (/ 240)

ASDA

Christmas Mince Pies

6

92p / 15.3p

172

Lidl

Snowy Lodge Deep Filled Mince Pies

12

£1.04* / 8.7p

168

Sainsbury’s

Deep Filled Mince Pies

6

£1* / 16.7p

157

The Co-op

Deep Filled Mince Pies

6

£1.35 / 22.5p

155

Mr Kipling

Exceedingly Merry Mince Pies

6

£1.49 / 24.8p

154

Marks & Spencer

Classic Butter Rich Mince Pies

6

£1.59 / 26.5p

146

Waitrose

Shortcrust Mince Pies

6

£1.29 / 21.5p

129

Morrisons

Iced Topped Mince Pies

6

£1.19 / 19.8p

117

Tesco

Value Mince Pies

6

62p / 10.3p

110

*Special offer. Lidl mince pies currently have 30% off and Sainsbury’s mince pies are reduced from £1.25.

The 2010 winner

Interestingly, this year’s results were slightly different to last year’s. However, once again, budget brands ASDA and Lidl did extremely well, with ASDA coming out as the overall King, with a total of 172 points! Given this pack of mince pies was the third cheapest at just 92p a pack, or 15.3p per pie, this really is great value for money.

Comments for the ASDA mince pies included ‘solid mince pie. Would happily have it on Christmas Day’ and ‘very good – gooey mincemeat’.

Last year’s winner, Lidl, wasn’t far behind – in fact, it was just four points behind ASDA, with 168 points. And taking a closer look at the results, Lidl actually beat ASDA on both the overall look of the pie, and the quality of the pastry. ASDA only triumphed over Lidl on the flavour of the mincemeat.

We compare some of the big food brands with supermarket own brands to see which tastes best!

Lidl’s pies were also the cheapest in the competition, at £1.04 for a pack of 12 pies, or 8.7p a pie. So this just goes to show that you can still get a good quality product for a low price! 

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s had the fourth cheapest mince pies at £1 a pack, or 16.7p per pie, and took the third spot with 157 points.

The 2010 losers

So who were this year’s losers? Last year saw the more luxury brands – Waitrose, Mr Kipling and M&S – come in last. This year they were still in the bottom five, and they were also three of the most expensive mince pies at £1.29, £1.49 and £1.59 a pack respectively.

The Mr Kipling pies were described as ‘average’, while the M&S pies gained comments such as, the ‘pastry was too hard’, and the Waitrose offering was described as ‘awful’, ‘a bit stodgy’ and ‘chewy’.

But it was Morrisons and Tesco that came in last. However, it’s worth noting that these were the more controversial mince pies in the competition and opinions about the Morrisons Iced Topped Mince Pies were very mixed.

Some tasters absolutely loved them, saying they were ‘very nice and sweet', ‘quality mince pie’ and ‘the king’. Meanwhile, other testers said, ‘overpowered by icing and doesn’t look like a mince pie’ and ‘was this someone’s idea of a joke?’.

Personally, I absolutely love iced topped mince pies, but clearly they are not to everyone’s taste, and some testers questioned whether they could really be described as ‘pies’.

The Tesco offering was the second cheapest out of all of the pies at 62p per pack, or 10.3p per pie. However, they also achieved the lowest score with just 110 points. Most testers said there was not enough mincemeat and too much pastry in these pies. The mincemeat was also described as ‘bland’. So in this instance, a lower price did mean a lower quality product.

Related blog post

The conclusion

Before I go any further, I must clarify that this wasn’t the most scientific experiment in the world and everyone has their own individual tastes and preferences.

Ultimately, it would be interesting to compare all of the standard brands, the luxury brands, the value brands, and the iced topped variety from all of the big supermarkets.

And of course, there are plenty of other retailers to try such as Iceland, Aldi and Netto. But really, that would involve a LOT of mince pie munching, and there’s only so far our stomachs will stretch!

But hopefully this has still revealed that paying more for your mince pies doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting a tastier deal. In fact, you could be getting a far worse deal. And although the Tesco ‘value’ pies did prove to be pretty awful, retailers such as ASDA and Lidl that market themselves as budget-friendly still offer some top-quality products.

Of course, I’ll let you decide which mince pies you want to go for this year – or perhaps you’d prefer to make some of your own. But whatever you decide to do, we hope you have a very merry Christmas!

Have you had any mince pies yet? Share your experiences about which are the best using the comments box below!

More on Christmas spending and saving

How to have a cheaper Christmas

Twelve good, cheap Christmas gift ideas

Ways to spread the cost of Christmas

Top credit cards for Christmas spending

Recycle your things for cash!

The cheapest Christmas lunch

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Comments (21)

  • billpolley
    Love rating 1
    billpolley said

    Why is the fat content never mentioned - I'm always looking for a lower fat mince pie but have yet to see ones that wouldn't be the equivalent of a tikka masala meal!!!

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • therealche
    Love rating 0
    therealche said

    Ultimately, it would be interesting to compare all of the standard

    brands, the luxury brands, the value brands, and the iced topped variety

    from all of the big supermarkets

    So why didn't you? It would make more sense to compare like with like.

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • julianora
    Love rating 0
    julianora said

    Absolutely staggered that Asda won - the pastry is so very poor that they don't come close to the quality of the Lidl ones.

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Ken1961
    Love rating 22
    Ken1961 said

    Why is it that you promote supermarket mass produced tat. I know Mr Kipling is not an own brand but it is still mass produced. I would have thought that if you are not going to bake your own then the next best thing would be to use a local bakery or christmas market. The quality normally out shines any of the mass produced products. No wonder our high streets all look the same, for a change support your local traders and not the clones.

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Some (but far from all) supermarket products are disgusting in terms of food quality but they are at least produced to high standards of consistency and hygienically. These articles are meant to compare readily available items, not give a list of local suppliers whose standards of food handling and hygiene may not be worthy of the 'quality' of their products and do not deserve local support. Local suppliers whose products and service shine have always succeeded, there are also volume producers who stay faithful to quality so overall, Ken1961, you are being unfair to the author and somewhat patronising to Lovemoney subscribers. 

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • purple bladder
    Love rating 1
    purple bladder said

    I think Ken1961 is right. Mince pies are so easy to make, Supermarket ones are a very poor substitute for the real things. Perhaps, electricblue, it is you who are being a tad patronising1

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Luniversal
    Love rating 54
    Luniversal said

    Where did this idea that Lidl is a 'deep discounter' come from? I would say the average price of groceries is on a par with Sainsbury, with a more limited range but a useful tilt towards middle-European delicatessen.

    Lidl lacks some own-brand 'basics', e.g. instant coffee, sliced bread, crisps or canned fruit. It discounts fruit and veg more selectively than Aldi, and you would not be able to fill a weekly shopping basket of staples as fully or cheaply as at Asda.

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • silkycat
    Love rating 48
    silkycat said

    Luniversal makes some good points here. My Mum used to make great mince pies, but sadly sh'e 95 now and in a care home and I don't have time to make any. Even if I did it would be pointless recommending them to you. There's nothing wrong with the Lovemoney survey and results as long as you take it for what it is - subjective and limited.

    The reasons I shop infrequently at Lidl/Aldi are:-

    1. I can't use my credit card and build up cashback.

    2. The packing areas at checkouts are tiny.

    3. Very few checkout staff available at any one time resulting in long queues, which I can do without on a quick lunchtime shop.

    E.G. my local Lidl has 4 checkouts, but more often than not only one of them is open. When I chatted with the manager he said that there were only 3 staff including himself and 'head office' wouldn't let him have any more. Not surprisingly he was leaving the following week for a better job. That's the price we pay for a cheap supermarket.

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • allanisniceok
    Love rating 4
    allanisniceok said

    im glad that lidlhave come out on top the people who moan about only small checkouts and haveing to wait a little longer  yes the staff work hard if not on checkouts filling shelves this includes the mangers if it keeps the cost down and we get the rewards the big supermarkets with there fancy musiic and misleadung offer your welcome to them, im a 70 years old but travel to lidl rather than a close by big supermarket ther fruit and veg is fresh and cheap and most from british farmers not fancy packed and i found the staff very helpfull if i cant find things the other day i saw the security guard pushing a disabled person around doing her shopping never seen that in the big supermarkets well done lidl you may not be as glamous as the big ones but I come to shop I go to the theatre if i want to be entertained

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    'Mince pies are so easy to make' - ? Where was the article related to whether they are best made at home? I find it easy to service my own vehicles; does that render all articles on garage services pointless? Skill levels vary and sadly some need to join the real world where the majority do not regard home baking as an option. Of course Lovemoney surveys are always subjective and limited - the author made that clear in the article from the outset. If we are to have a debate about value and discounting, the margins in food distribution are puny compared to the 1000% margins I see in DIY chains on hardware and plumbing items. 

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Swansswimmer
    Love rating 5
    Swansswimmer said

    Ok, I've not tasted too many of the short list above BUT if you have an Iceland near you then I'd be interested to hear if you enjoy their mince pies as much as I do. 18 for £2, excellent short crust pastry, good tasty filling and great value. 

    Report on 12 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Ken1961
    Love rating 22
    Ken1961 said

    electricblue I can't quite figure how I'm being patronising to readers by suggesting that it's worth looking outside the PLC's and to give local bakeries a try instead, for mince pies. As farmer markets and farm shops become ever more popular it would seem I'm not alone, with the resounding message being that local produce often out shines the mass produced tat on offer from super markets. What I found very patronising about your remarks where the insinuation by you, that local food producers standards of food handling and hygiene may not be worthy of the 'quality' of their products and do not deserve local support. How on earth did you get to that conclusion? Is it not the supermarkets drive for ever increasing profits that forces todays intensive farming practises, which have led to un-natural battery systems of drug filled animals, mechanical meat reclamation and contaminated poultry meat, add to that the E numbers, trans fats and a host of other nasties over the years which has been added to our food, all in the name of profit. Have you ever been in a chicken shed where from egg to table takes 6 weeks? The smell is digusting, the chickens are gorged on high protein foods where the light levels are gradualy decreased over the few weeks they live and the heat increased to reduce the amount of movement they make, eventualy they become so fat that their legs can't take the weight and they fracture, which is why you will see blood lumps in the meat, so you are right supermarkets are consistent in their methods, but I take issue on the high standards you claim.

    Report on 13 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • Rachel Wait
    Love rating 17
    Rachel Wait said

    Hi therealache

    As I explained in the article, I didn't compare all of those mince pies because that would mean tasting around 40 pies. That's a lot of pies for 8 people to eat. This was simply meant to be a bit of fun showing that lower price doesn't always mean poorer quality.

    Thanks

    Rachel

    Report on 13 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Ken - I made my points based on extensive experience dealing with local food producers both on a personal level and in an IT business which enabled me to witness things at close hand. Your totally unrelated rant about chicken production methods and 'E numbers' shows that you are a biased fanatic. In particular, 'E numbers ' are also allocated to naturally naturally occurring and beneficial ingredients. I didn't claim high quality standards for supermarket production but consistency of standards and cleanliness which local producers may not meet. The selling of pies and pastries in particular at markets and farmer's markets is an area which I know causes great concern to Food Standards agencies. The disclosure of ingredients should also give us the ability to make our own choices. As far as being patronising, your calling supermarket products 'TAT' was a generalisation insulting to the whole nature of the article, to the concept of mass production and to those of us who take a balanced view on what we buy. 

    Report on 13 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Monocle
    Love rating 2
    Monocle said

    Well this cheers me up no end! To be frank, Unscientific is understating it. The latest in the range of 'ask the person sittiing opposite you in the office what they think and call it a survey' surveys tell you bugger all apart from the following...

    1) Lovemoney staff can't cook but have microwaves.

    2) We know where you shop and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    3) Food-loving singles looking for fun Christmas dates should avoid the Lovemoney office party at all costs!

    Merry Christmas chaps!

    Report on 13 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • MikeGG1
    Love rating 909
    MikeGG1 said

    ASDA may be 92p for 6 but you can get even better value for a party with £2 for 18.

    Report on 13 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • muffindell66
    Love rating 4
    muffindell66 said

    Lidl and Aldi rock! I used to shop at ASDA until I gave it a go one week to see if I was able to do a complete shop at ALDI. I saved around £60 off my weekly shop AND purchased everything that I needed for our family of 5. It doesn't take a brain to work out that the saving over the course of a year will pay for the family holiday abroad, in effect for free!

    The quality of product in both ALDI and LIDL is excellent and often better than ASDA. I agree there is often a wait a checkout but both supermarkets are improving in that area. It should also be noted that both supermarkets pay their staff the best in the industry, that's why there are fewer staff on the shop floor, smiling and friendly, and they all multi-task.

    I agree that mince pies can be made quite easily, but many of just don't have the time or it's purely not cost effective per unit. Lidl's or Aldi's sell wonderful pies and Christmas puds to rival the best that the other mainstream supermarkets have on offer.

    Report on 14 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • hopefultom
    Love rating 50
    hopefultom said

    LUNIVERSAL...If you believe that Lidl & Sainsbury prices are on a par,may I humbly suggest you visit Specsaver,although I do agree about the range limitations in Lidl.

    ALANISNICEOK...Perhaps attitudes are different in your area( I'm in Greater Manchester ) but it is par for the course round here to see disabled customers being accompanied by staff ( if they request it ) in Sainsburys.

    KEN1961.....Here,Here!!!

    Report on 15 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Anyone else want to join Ken's fairytale world? If you agree with Ken, hopefultom - what would you know about supermarkets? 

    Report on 15 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • ipsleylodger
    Love rating 0
    ipsleylodger said

    We have used LIDL Mince Pies for the last 3 years at the Santa specials run at the Rural Life Centre in Surrey. They are always well received and many are suprised who supplies them. We do warm them on the tea urn which greatly improves their taste.

    Report on 16 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • hopefultom
    Love rating 50
    hopefultom said

    ELECTRICBLUE   In answer to your question,apart from shopping,like everyone else,I have worked,for the last 8 years as a merchandiser in all of the major supermarkets & retail outlets,with the exception of Waitrose (none in my area )

    I had to retire on health grounds 2 months ago.This is why I now find the time to reply to ignorant comments such as yours.

    Report on 17 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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