Supermarket Sweep

Here’s a great piece by Joanna Blythman on the con that our supermarkets are involved in:

“It was only in June that Sainsbury’s boss, Justin King, criticised campaigns encouraging shoppers to buy only British food as “simplistic”, so what are we to make of the chain’s announcement that it has decided to source nearly all the meat it uses in ready-meals from Britain?

Despite Mr King’s rousing summertime attack on the “food miles” critique of our globalised food chain, it seems that Sainsbury’s can’t resist scoring patriotic brownie points to give it a handy ethical edge over its rivals. To be fair, Sainsbury’s has done something it can legitimately brag about. Embarrassed by campaigners who have exposed our large food retailers’ willingness to dump UK suppliers at the drop of a hat for their overseas competitors, leading chains are tripping over each another to demonstrate their loyal support for British farming.

Over the last 18 months, supermarket PR staff have spewed out a steady stream of press releases trumpeting switches to UK-produced meat. They invariably contain that weasel word “fresh” – as in “All our fresh lamb/beef/pork will now be 100% British.” Sounds good and pretty comprehensive too but in supermarket-speak, “fresh” doesn’t cover ready-made convenience foods. Draw your own conclusions from that. Although the raw joints, chops and stew in supermarket aisles are increasingly likely to be British, your chicken tikka, lasagne and shepherd’s pie is almost certainly not.

Revealingly, Sainsbury’s has provided us with a figure to quantify just how little British meat has been used in ready meals: it says that only 8% of meat in such products came from Britain.”

Read the full article at Guardian here.