A probe by the Sunday Mirror has revealed that the signs above fruit and vegetable displays in supermarkets extolling produce from British growers might not be wholly accurate, as often the products below them come from other countries.
According to the newspaper, seven of the UK’s top supermarkets are selling fruit and vegetables imported from countries such as Spain, Kenya and Belgium underneath banners plugging UK produce.
The newspaper cites a display in Marks & Spencer bearing the ‘Best of British’ union Jack logo alongside a photograph of raspberries, but the soft fruit on the shelves was actually from Portugal. Alongside the raspberries were cherries from Chile and strawberries from Egypt. In fact, according to the probe, not a single berry on that particular M&S display came from the UK.
The newspaper’s secret shoppers found similar examples at branches of Tesco, Waitrose, Lidl, Asda, Morrisons and Aldi. While they found that some products had been grown in the UK, a lot of those products were positioned by foreign imports.
Commenting on the findings, a spokesman for the British Growers Association said that suppliers do buy from the UK, but agreed that this type of advertising could not be “anything other than misleading”.
According to a survey, undertaken by Young’s Seafood last year, 70 per cent of shoppers said they would always prefer to buy food produced in the UK and the supermarkets seem keen to plug produce of British origin.
Most of the supermarkets questioned by the newspaper said that while they also source from abroad, they have no intention of misleading customers, and the individual packaging of products clearly show where they are from. For this reason, according to Trading Standards, supermarkets cannot be taken to task, as judges can only rule case by case and the signs do not claim that all their produce is British.