THE petrol price war intensified yesterday as supermarket chain Asda dropped prices to below 50p a litre for unleaded fuel.

At the same time, on another shopping war front, a supermarket in England has begun paying customers to take away baked beans in the first recorded case of ``negative pricing''.

Most Scottish motorists will miss out on Asda's petrol offer because the ``profit-free forecourts'' will operate only at hypermarkets and Asda has only two in Scotland - at Govan, Glasgow, and in Edinburgh.

Last night, other petrol companies accused Asda of jumping on the bandwagon months after they had reduced prices, and Asda denied it was cheating Scots.

A spokeswoman said: ``Most people are prepared to travel for up to half an hour and take advantage of all the deals offered in our hypermarkets as well as the petrol offers.''

Asda has 206 stores nationwide but only 118 of them sell petrol. Only its 10 hypermarkets are involved in the cut-price promotion.

Last night, Shell spokesman Andrew Vickers said: ``We have been offering cut-price petrol since last summer along with air miles offers and smart card points for customers.

``Asda are a bit behind the times and are now jumping on the bandwagon. Their prices might be cheaper than ours but it would appear they have a limited market. But it is something we will be watching.''

A spokesman for BP said: ``We try to keep our prices competitive at all times. We are not worried about Asda reducing prices because they are behind the rest of the field.''

Esso's retail marketing director, Mr Nigel Law, said: ``Asda's announcement is old news. Our advice to motorists is to check prices at the forecourt and they will find Esso's among the lowest.''

Meanwhile, Sanders Supermarket in the village of Lympsham, near Weston-super-Mare, is giving customers 2p for every Right Price can of baked beans taken away.

The store's joint managing director, Mr Chris Sanders, 41, said yesterday he thought it was the first in the country to take price-cutting to this level.

Customers are being restricted to one tin a day of what are believed to be Britain's cheapest baked beans.

``The reaction has been very positive - it is very easy to sell tins at minus 2p a tin,'' he said, adding: ``It is gaining us a lot of customers.

He joked: ``If customers buy only beans, we will quickly go out of business but if they do their whole shop it will be worth while and we will continue.''

The beans market is worth an estimated #250m a year, with three million cans sold every day.

Tesco and Kwik Save both said their lowest price for baked beans would stay at 3p a tin, where it fell at the height of the war in mid-April.