Waitrose food labelling scam – Waitrose supermarkets stops telling customers where their products are made

Waitrose logo Dec 2015

I am deeply disappointed with Waitrose / John Lewis because they no longer label where all their own brand foods and other products come from, either on the products themselves or on their website.

I was in Waitrose in Reading the other day (27th October 2015) and as usual checked the packaging of what I was buying to make sure it was made or grown in the UK and I noticed that Waitrose no longer put country of origin on all their products.

I suppose this was to be expected as John Lewis have been failing to label country of origin on many of their products for a while, but disappointing because Waitrose / John Lewis profess their support for British farmers and British manufacturers and because as a customer I want to know where what I am buying is made. There is I understand generally no legal requirement to say where goods are from, but as a consumer the lack of information and hence lack of choice now being offered by Waitrose / John Lewis is a let down.

Examples of Waitrose own brand products with no country of origin given anymore are:

  • Waitrose Sweet and Salty Popcorn.
  • Waitrose Rich Coffee Roast (see photographs below).
  • Waitrose Essential Macaroni.

Up until recently all Waitrose products, like those in other supermarkets, always stated country of origin. I am at a loss to see why Waitrose would change that, given that they are a British firm and claim to support Great Britain and their local communities.

Presumably those products with no country of origin labelling are now being made abroad, yet Waitrose customers undoubtedly think, because Waitrose have a Royal Warrant and because they say you support British manufacturing and British farming, that they will be made in Britain. This is very misleading, and it amounts to a scam to mislead their customers.

I want to buy goods that are designed, manufactured or assembled, or grown in the UK, or preferably all of these; with raw materials sourced here too where possible and packaged in the UK using UK made packaging; and with provenance clearly labeled.

Waitrose / John Lewis can work to support British companies and British jobs and be environmentally friendly (by reducing their carbon footprint through reducing the miles goods are transported) by buying and selling British.

Of course I recognise that international trade is vital to the UK and that trade is a two way street. I don’t advocate protectionism and there is nothing wrong with buying products from abroad. I just want Waitrose / John Lewis to return to clear labelling so customers have a choice.

I want to make informed decisions about what I buy, and I’m interested in the provenance and sustainability of products. Local sourcing plays a part in that, and I’m proud to support quality British manufacturing and British farmers. Sadly, as Waitrose is my favourite supermarket, I will not be able to buy much in there now because of the lack of labelling and my money will be spent elsewhere.

Can consumers influence greedy retailers to make changes for the better? I don’t know but I would ask Waitrose / John Lewis to go back to their previous policy of clear labelling please.

I wrote to Waitrose with my concerns on 28th October 2015. They replied promptly saying they would get back to me, which they have now done. They say “that, when deciding whether or not to include country of origin we take the following in to account:

– Whether it is a legal requirement to do so, as with Beef for example. We display country of origin labelling on all meat and meat products we sell.
– Whether there is a specific policy to do so (such as with dairy, where we are currently reviewing the information we show).
– Whether the products packaging or style may indicate a geographical location, but the product is produced elsewhere – such as an Italian ‘style’ ready meal that has been produced int he UK.”

This is all very confusing and unclear.  Please join me in pushing Waitrose to go back to labelling country of origin on everything. Ask at Customer Service next time you are in store (show them a product and ask where it was made and why that is not labeled) and write to Waitrose to complain.  Please do not be buy any Waitrose own brand products that do not say where they are made on them.  Thank you for your support. Waitrose, please stop misleading your customers.

Essential Waitrose Rich Roast Coffee instant granules. Front view. Note country of origin is no longer given. Presumably this Waitrose coffee is now foreign made.

Essential Waitrose Rich Roast Coffee instant granules. Front view. Note country of origin is no longer given. Presumably this Waitrose coffee is now foreign made. This coffee used to be clearly labelled as processed and packed in the UK. Photograph by author.

Essential Waitrose Rich Roast Coffee instant granules. Front view. Note country of origin is no longer given. Presumably this Waitrose coffee is now foreign made.

Essential Waitrose Rich Roast Coffee instant granules. Label view. Note country of origin is no longer given. Presumably this Waitrose coffee is now foreign made. Photograph by author.

Waitrose Christmas 2015 Chocolate Biscuit Selection - again there is no country of origin labelling on this Waitrose product.

Waitrose Christmas 2015 Chocolate Biscuit Selection – again there is no country of origin labelling on this Waitrose product. Photograph by author.

Waitrose Christmas 2015 Chocolate Biscuit Selection. Label detail view - again there is no country of origin labelling on this Waitrose product.

Waitrose Christmas 2015 Chocolate Biscuit Selection. Label detail view – again there is no country of origin labelling on this Waitrose product. Photograph by author.

Some products (residual lines perhaps) are still labelled with country of origin, such as the Waitrose toilet roll below.

Waitrose Essential uktra soft bathroom tissue white - labelled “Produced in the UK”.

Waitrose Essential ultra soft bathroom tissue white – labelled “Produced in the UK”. Photograph by author.

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4 thoughts on “Waitrose food labelling scam – Waitrose supermarkets stops telling customers where their products are made

  1. Mike

    I have noticed this as well, and will be writing to Waitrose as well as asking to speak to the manager next time I am in store. I have also noticed after a couple of year of selling British made bakeware they have now reverted to made in China, which is very disappointing. Some other household items they have switched, are there own brand washing up liquid which used to be made in UK and now states made in Spain, and toilet cleaner which is no longer labelled. I don’t understand why they are doing this. If they believe they are cutting costs to compete then they are wrong. I can buy UK made washing up liquid cheaper in the co-op and I wrote to Waitrose about being able to buy British bakeware cheaper (and better) years ago when they were selling chinese. About a year later they switched so I don’t know what they are playing at switiching back again! Most importantly of all they are ignoring what must be a significant amount of their customers who prefer to buy better quality British made, and are prepared to pay a little extra. Grumpygramme to Waitrose will be on its way shortly!

    Reply
    1. ukmade Post author

      Hi. Thank you for your comment. It’s good to hear someone else thinking the way I do. I think quite a few Waitrose customers would be upset by and hard pushed to understand the direction they are taking. Cheers.

      Reply
  2. itwasjudith

    Thanks for highlighting this!
    I find it really annoying when there is no origin info on the things I’m shopping for. I also tend not to buy when the info is missing.
    Hopefully, retailers will be more willing to address the issue when their sales are impacted.

    Reply
    1. ukmade Post author

      Hi. Thank you for your comment. I’m the same. I generally won’t buy something if it does not say where it is made. As a rule, when a retailer or manufacturer does not put country of origin on something, that means it is foreign made.

      Reply

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