Category Archives: Labelling

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.

Made in Britain label under threat following new EU proposal

Made in Britain label under threat following new EU proposal.

I only heard about this frankly ludicrous proposal the other day.  Please read about it on the Make it British website.

I have pasted the article, dated 11 August 2013, below:

Most British brands currently using a ‘Made in Britain’ label in their products will no longer be able to do so if new European Commission ideas go ahead.

In a ludicrous new proposal by the European Commission (as reported in today’s Sunday Times), plans are underway to change the way that goods are labelled, so that it is the most expensive element of a product that defines its country of origin, not the country in which it was put together. With the majority of products made in the UK, from cars to clothes to electrical goods, containing a large proportion of imported components, this would mean that there will be very few products available to buy that were labelled as ‘Made in Britain’. What’s more, for businesses flouting these rules, the EU plans to impose huge fines, possibly amounting to 10% of annual turnover.

Just looking through the Make it British directory of brands that carry the Made in Britain label in their products, I can see that 90% of these would have to lose their current labelling. Here is just a few examples of the impact that it would have:

  • Dege & Skinner suits, made in Savile Row, from cloth woven in the UK but from wool from Australia, would have to be labelled as made in Australia.
  • Crockett & Jones shoes, made in Northampton for over a hundred years, but from Italian leather, will have to be labelled as Made in Italy.
  • David Malik Chandeliers, made in London from Czech crystal, will have to be labelled made in the Czech Republic.
  • House of Dorchester chocolates, made on the Duchy of Cornwall’s Poundbury estate in Cornwall, from cocoa beans from West Africa, will have to be labelled as Made in Africa.

You get the idea.

In the week that it was announced that British exports are have risen to £80 Billion because non-EU countries can’t get enough of goods with the ‘Made in Britain’ label in, this is a slap in the face for UK manufacturing. Whilst the European Commission say that they are doing this to make country of origin clearer for consumer, how much more confusing can it be for customers than buying a Savile Row suit with a Made in Australia label in it?

Hopefully this stupid EU idea will go nowhere – the German’s are also pretty unhappy about it – but if it does come to fruition it makes me wonder whether I should just pack this all up and go home!

What do you think? Do you think that thisEU idea has any chance of going through? Would you think twice about buying luxury chocolates if they were labelled Made in Africa? If you could afford a Savil Row suit would you buy one if the label said Made in Australia?

Country of origin labelling

Country of origin labelling.

Most companies label their products with information regarding country of origin.  The better companies also give this information on their websites too.

Did you know that this is not a legal requirement to give country of origin information in the UK although it is for countries like the USA and Japan.

Did you also know that for medicines making statements like ‘country of origin’ is not possible under European Medicines and Medical Devices Legislation.

If country of origin is not given, please ask the company concerned where something is made before buying.

Where companies do not label their products with country of origin information, this leaves the consumer unable to make informed decisions about what they buy, and in particular the provenance and sustainability of products.

Did you know that a few years ago, perhaps up to the 60s or even 70s, some products such as cutlery were marked England (meaning made in England), Empire (meaning made in one of the countries that were part of the British Empire) or Foreign (meaning made abroad, but not within the Empire).  At least that is what I assume these markings on some cutlery and other goods means.

A Made in England label

I would also encourage companies to use labels that are themselves that are made in the UK. For example GB Labels and Cash’s labels are made in the UK I understand.

Various “standard” made in Britain marques are available to manufacturers, including the “Made in Britain” marque and the British Family “Made in Britain” marque or a company can just make their own.