Waitrose managing director Mark Price said the retailer would continue to back British farmers despite prospects of higher food price and attacked Asda’s 2-pence sausage as unsupportive of British agriculture.

“Good food costs,” he told journalists and showgoers at the Royal Show 2008.

Waitrose had absorbed cost increases in beef and lamb without inflatging food prices on its shelves, he said.

“Lambs are 33% more expensive than this time last year, but we’ve not passed this on to the consumer. Beef is 25% more expensive – but we’ve only increased our retail price by 6%. Our margins have narrowed since this time last year.”

Mr Price said Waitrose remained committed to supporting British farming and championing high-quality, premium food.

But he insisted Waitrose was not the most expensive food retailer in the market.

“Marks & Spencer is 15% more expensive than Waitrose,” he said.