Category Archives: Supermarkets

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.

Sainsbury’s Supermarket

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) and they even sell British made kitchen pans. Well done Sainsbury’s.

Sainbury's tomato sauce.  Made in the UK.

Sainbury’s tomato sauce. Made in the UK.

Sainsbury's Aluminium Stir Fry Pan.  Made in the UK.

Sainsbury’s Aluminium Stir Fry Pan. Made in the UK.

Sainsbury's Aluminium 14cm Milk Pan.  Made in the UK

Sainsbury’s Aluminium 14cm Milk Pan. Made in the UK

Waitrose supermarkets

Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Group, holds 2 Royal Warrants.

http://www.waitrose.com/

Much of the food in Waitrose is sourced and packaged in the UK.  Waitrose 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” and they are the only major supermarket I can find that makes such a simple and clear commitment to buy British.  Well done Waitrose!  As always though, check where the things you buy are sourced and packaged.  As well as the obvious exceptions of things like bananas and wine, not everything in Waitrose is made in Britain.

But please see *Waitrose food labelling scam – Waitrose supermarkets stops telling customers where their products are made*

Waitrose, Staines-upon-Thames

http://www.waitrose.com/waitroseway

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.