14 March 2016
Is this a myth? Many motorists often hear that branded fuel like Shell, Esso or BP is better that petrol and diesel sold at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons or Asda.
There are rumours that supermarket fuel has potential to damage your car engine and can affect the MPG (miles per gallon).
We looked at the science behind supermarket fuel to understand if it is really worth paying more money for branded petrol and diesel. Here are some myths and facts about supermarket fuel.
Myth or Fact? - Petrol or diesel you buy at the supermarkets is not the same as the fuel you would buy from other garages
All petrol and diesel sold in the UK must conform to British and European standards - EN228 for unleaded and for diesel EN590. This means that they should all work in the same way and that you should be able to mix the same grade of fuel, bought from different outlets, without any problem.
Fuel from supermarkets is held to the exact same minimum safety and quality standards as premium sellers, so there’s no need to be concerned about getting an unsafe product, even when you pay a lower price at supermarket forecourts.
Myth or Fact? - Branded fuel has extra additives
The special additives used in fuel apply to both the cheapest fuel as well as to the branded, so-called high performance fuels.
However, fuel companies add extra ingredients designed for their premium fuel. For example, premium fuel like Shell V-Power Nitro+ has special additives that can help to increase your vehicle’s efficiency and other premium fuels have higher octane (petrol) and certane (diesel) ratings that can improve performance and economy.
Myth or Fact? - Branded fuel makes a difference to the performance of a vehicle
When it comes down to the performance, the opinions really vary. Some research shows that high-grade fuels keep fuel systems cleaner, reduce emissions, give better performance and improve fuel economy.
However, most research doesn’t show a conclusive result that proves that supermarket fuel does not perform as well as branded. Overall, modern cars are very complex and there are many variables that affect performance. As a result, it is difficult to identify the impact of fuel on its own.
Myth or Fact? - Supermarket fuel can damage your car
Supermarket fuel tanker lorries often fill up from the same tanks as branded fuel lorries – so most of the time the fuel they sell is the same, but premium fuel may have different additive packages.
Depending on your vehicle, you may notice differences between using different filling stations. However, the fuel in the UK meets the British and European Standards, so if you need basic fuel without additives, you can use any petrol station to fill up your vehicle.
So why is supermarket fuel so cheap?
We’ve established that supermarket fuel is of a similar quality to premium fuel brands, and is subject to the same safety and quality standards- so why is supermarket fuel that much cheaper than their premium competitors?
Supermarkets - particularly large chain supermarkets such as Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - have been selling fuel alongside their normal groceries for around 50 years. Today, supermarket fuel is popular due to its affordability for businesses.
The number of supermarket fuel sites continues to grow with demand and in 2019 there were more than 1,500 supermarket fuel sites in the UK. Estimates show that in society today four in five people live within three miles of a low cost fuel supermarket site owned by Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons or Sainsbury’s.
As of 2019, Tesco was the largest supermarket presence in the fuel market, with around 500 sites nationwide, making up almost a third of all supermarket fuel sites whilst ASDA, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s all had 300-350 sites each. Despite making up less than 20% of all fuel sites, estimates show that almost half of all petrol and more than 40% of diesel purchases in the country occur at a supermarket fuel site.
Supermarket fuel prices, like premium fuel brands, are determined partially by oil prices, the distance of a station from the refinery and the level of competition in the area. They also operate using large economies of scale, as supermarket fuel is so popular, which allows them to pass these savings onto their customers. However, the biggest impact on supermarket fuel prices is that of other supermarkets in the area. Supermarket fuel brands aren’t trying to compete with premium and name brands, but instead with other supermarket chains in the area, and are all in a constant battle to undercut one another. The reason for this is simple - they want to increase their footfall into the store to do their weekly shop, as this is where supermarkets make the most amount of money.
Supermarket fuel prices are between 3p and 5p cheaper than branded fuel prices and compared to motorway services, some of which have been found to charge up to 37 pence more per litre than their nearest regular fuel forecourt. However, in areas with lots of different supermarkets or particularly high competition, you can find prices that are 8p-10p cheaper per litre - when supermarkets are offering additional discounts on fuel for in-store customers, these savings can be even higher.
Get the right fuel card for your business
Fuel cards are an effective way to help you stay in control of fuel costs and streamline administration. A fuel card could help to make a significant difference to your processes and costs when it comes to buying and reimbursing fuel costs to drivers.
A fuel card functions similarly to a credit card, except that instead of charging a person's account, fuel cards charge the business' account, bypassing the individual driver entirely. All of these costs are combined into a single HMRC-compliant invoice, helping to prevent that administrative headache as your drivers don’t need to keep receipts. With an Allstar fuel card, you’ll have access to an online account management tool so you can stay in control of fuel costs and gain visibility of driver behaviour.
At Allstar we offer a range of fuel cards, tailored to the needs of different businesses. The Allstar Supermarket+ card allows you and your drivers to quickly and easily purchase high-quality, low-cost supermarket fuel at all of the major supermarkets – ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco. We are the only major fuel card brand to work with all four of the UK’s biggest supermarket fuel providers, and our network covers more than 1,500 supermarket fuel sites.
Do you fill up at Morrisons, ASDA, Tesco or Sainsbury's?
With a range of Allstar fuel cards, you can take advantage of our extensive network including all major supermarkets, with the Allstar Supermarket+ fuel card.
Explore the full benefits of the Allstar Supermarket+ fuel card here.