British Food and Drink – Supermarkets, Markets, the Net and Local Shops

Most of the food and drinks in the supermarkets and markets of the UK is grown and packaged in the UK with the obvious exception of things like bananas and wine. However this is not always the case, particularly with luxury foods and I advise you to check if you want to buy British. As always the adage of buying local is best and buying what is in season.  Local markets and Farmer’s Markets often have local produce.  With other goods in supermarkets, for example when buying a toothbrush or household goods, it will be harder to find British made. Increasingly tinned foods and confectionary are coming from abroad, so please check it is British before you buy. Look at the labels when buying for clear country of origin labelling (such as made or produced in the UK, processed and packed in the UK) and choose British made when you do your supermarket shop, so as to support Britain and reduce your environmental impact.

Your local shop will still sell British produced foods, if you select carefully and you can find lots of British produced food on the internet, again with careful selection (lots of companies imply produced in Britain when that is not the case).

I’ve put photos of some British food and drink on a Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/ukmade/british-food-and-drink/

Essential Waitrose non-biological laundry powder. Produced in the UK.

Essential Waitrose non-biological laundry powder. Produced in the UK. Photograph by author.

Essential Waitrose non-biological laundry powder. Produced in the UK. Look carefully at the labelling to determine country of origin and buy British made.

Essential Waitrose non-biological laundry powder. Produced in the UK. Photograph by author. Look carefully at the labelling to determine country of origin and buy British made. Note Waitrose are no longer labelling most of their products with country of origin information, so you will have to shop elsewhere than Waitrose for most of your groceries.

Today’s (10.10.12) Tesco shop. The evaporated milk, cotton wool pads and pasta we bought were made abroad, but otherwise everything was produced in the UK.

Tesco – Much of the food in Tesco in the UK is sourced and packaged in the UK, but no all of it. Check where the things you buy are sourced and packaged.  From their website it appears that Tesco do not have a policy relating to provenance and traceability of the food that is on their shelves and make no commitment to buy British or to buy locally.  I wrote to Tesco about this and they say that they do understand the importance of buying British to their customers and that they actively support British farmers.  They also point out that they are British agriculture’s biggest customer.  A positive response I think and one that suggests they are keen to support British agriculture.  No mention is made of wanting to source their non-food products in the UK though. Tesco do show country of origin against their own brands on their website. All Tesco own brand products themselves are clearly labelled with country of origin – http://www.tesco.com

Marks and Spencer food halls still have lots of great British goods and produce to choose from. Sadly most other Marks and Spencer clothes and so on are foreign made. Looking through the M & S website, M & S do not appear to have a policy relating to provenance and traceability of the food that is on their shelves and make no commitment to buy British or to buy locally that I can see on their website, but they may have such policies as lots of items in the M & S food hall are sourced from the UK.

Aldi – Much of the food in Aldi in the UK is sourced and packaged in the UK, for example their meat and their fruit and vegetables.  However, for many tinned and packaged products Aldi do not state their origin at all, leaving the consumer unable informed to make decisions about what they buy, and in particular the provenance and sustainability of products.  Check where the things you buy are sourced and packaged. Aldi do not appear to have a policy relating to provenance and traceability of the food that is on their shelves and make no commitment to buy British or to buy locally.

Waitrose – Much of the food in Waitrose in the UK is sourced and packaged in the UK. Waitrose do have a policy relating to provenance and traceability of the food that is on their shelves and make a commitment to buy British and to buy locally.  The Waitrose website states “Wherever possible our buyers buy British”.  Again though, check where the things you buy are sourced and packaged. But please see *Waitrose food labelling scam – Waitrose supermarkets stops telling customers where their products are made*

Co-op – The Co-operative group is a co-operative with businesses including financial services, funerals and food.  They have their own farms (produce from which is part of their range in their shops) and promote themselves as an ethical business and a business that supports British farmers. That said the Co-op do not appear to have a policy relating to provenance and traceability of the food that is on their shelves and make no general commitment to buy British or to buy locally, although they state they are keen to support British farmers. Again, I suggest you check where the things you buy are sourced and packaged.

Morrisons is not a shop I know much about. In an article though about them sourcing more British food in the Guardian on 17 February 2017 their chairman says ““Morrisons is already British farming’s biggest single customer…” so it should be possible to find British reared or grown eggs, meat and dairy, cereals and fruit and vegetables in Morrisons and hopefully British processed and packed products too. I note the company have an office in Hong Kong to help them source ” products to its UK stores, from factories and suppliers throughout China, Hong Kong and the many other Far East Asian countries that the group uses.”  So do shop carefully in Morrisons and look for British made by reading labels before putting items in your trolley.

Sainsbury’s – Sainsbury’s do have a policy relating to provenance and traceability of the food that is on their shelves and make a general commitment to buy British (they do not talk about buying locally on their website).   They say they want to work more closely with British farmers and that by 2020, they will double the amount of British food they sell.  There is no commitment to buy British in their non-food areas.  At least they are trying. I suggest you check where the things you buy are sourced and packaged. It is particularly good that on the Sainsbury’s website they give the country of origin for their own brand products (mostly only applies to their own brand products but that’s a good start). Well done Sainsbury’s.

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2 thoughts on “British Food and Drink – Supermarkets, Markets, the Net and Local Shops

  1. merciacrops

    This is a good thing you’re doing here, I fully support it.

    There’s a surprising lot of stuff made and grown here. Often it isn’t specifically labelled as British though but looking at country of origin labels can be eye opening to just how much actually is. I always like to have a nosey.

    What I find with food is that some shops are better than others and it varies depending on what the things are.

    The UK has a massive food processing industry and most of the processed food, sweets, crisps and snacks are made here.
    When it comes to meat a lot of lamb and beed is from New Zealand but a lot also comes from the UK and Ireland too. Pork and Bacon are often imported from Europe (especially Denmark and Spain) although a lot is from here too. Chicken likewise.

    The main things that seem to be imported are often fruit and veg and highly processed meat (such as breaded chicken and pre-cooked diced meats).
    There’s usually a good selection of British fruit and veg available fresh during our season and a lot of our root veg pretty much all year.
    A lot of frozen veg is British too, especially peas and carrots.
    Fruit seems more heavily weighted to foreign imports but there’s usually a good selection still. Tesco this year were selling a lot of British fruit in season and branding it well and a lot of it was things not typically grown here either such as apricots, challenging consumers who’ve probably grown accustomed to British apples and little else which I think is great.

    Asda and Farmfoods seem two of the worst I’ve seen for British produce. They import lots, even things typically made here such as vegetable oil or biscuits. Farmfoods stocks a lot of meat and frozen potato products and they’re almost always from Holland and Belgium (potato products) and pretty much everywhere for the meat. It’s not uncommon to see labels such as “Produce of Thailand, Brazil and Norway” on chicken products there (actual label I saw).
    Aldi is surprisingly good for British produce too for a German supermarket. It seems to source a lot of its food products from UK producers which makes me a little less guilty in supporting a German supermarket over a British one.

    I work at a popular non-food retailer. We probably import half the stock, the rest being British. If I can contact you I’ll fill you in on what’s UK made, it’s quite surprising.

    Reply

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