UK supermarket group Asda has denied reports that its recent initiative to cut the price of bananas will penalise its suppliers.

Asda reduced the price of loose bananas to 38 pence a kilo, prompting critics to suggest that banana growers will be forced to foot the bill.

However, Asda "guaranteed" that suppliers "won't get a penny less".

"It's Asda footing the bill here," the UK unit of Wal-Mart insisted. "The reason we're able to offer the lowest prices to our shoppers is simple - because we cut unnecessary cost out of our business and pass it on.

"That's not because we're squeezing suppliers or trading unethically; it's just because we accept a lower margin than other retailers and invest more of our profit in lowering prices."