Value driven food categories across all the supermarkets have featured heavily throughout the recession as we are all looking for ways to save our hard earned pennies, but by opting for the cheaper value products, are you really getting value for money?
It has been brought to our attention by one J Sainsbury’s shopper, Russell Bowes that the Sainsbury’s Basic broccoli is in fact more expensive than their loose head broccoli. Sainsbury’s basic broccoli is priced at £2.63 per Kg (31/01/10), however you may be surprised to hear that their loose head broccoli is cheaper at £1.97 per Kg (31/01/10) meaning better value is to be had when buying the loose head broccoli opposed to the basics. Russell informs us that this dramatic price variation of 66p per Kg is only evident on close inspection when examining what Russell describes as “conveniently coloured price labels” which makes it difficult to read the price per Kg.
When we compared these prices at Tesco (24/02/10), we found that Tesco value Broccoli was 18p per Kg cheaper than the Tesco loose head broccoli and 83p per Kg cheaper than J Sainsbury’s basics broccoli.
When Russell queried the price difference between the basic and loose head broccoli in J Sainsbury’s, he was told “Basics broccoli plants are perhaps not as good or perhaps thinner so it has to be cut up”. Russell queried this, the story then changed “the loose broccoli comes from Spain” – but according to Russell was again forced to change the story when it was pointed out that the “Country of Origin” on the Basics bag also said Spain. Sainsbury’s care line were unable to make sense of this subject when questioned by Russell.
A few days later Russell returned to Sainsbury’s to find what he describes as “a big sign up over the broccoli, one which had been designed to look like its written on a blackboard a la “farmers market” style” which said “British Broccoli – fresh and in season!”. Russell then pointed out that every single solitary head of broccoli bagged or otherwise, was from Spain – the sign was taken down immediately.
We have been informed that this sign has now been replaced by a large notice reminding people that they can use the broccoli stalk (the bit that remains after the florets have been trimmed off) “to add to soups and stews – so no waste! Even better value!” surely this would only apply to the loose heads, rather than the “Basics” which is chopped into individual florets and doesn’t have any stalk? Russell describes J Sainsbury “as playing games with their consumers which is wrong!”
In response to Russell’s allegations of misleading labelling, Sainsbury’s Customer Manager said “The basics range broccoli comes prepared and packaged and therefore a price comparison with loose broccoli would give a misleading view. Our basics range is cheaper compared to the equivalent Sainsbury’s packed broccoli florets but loose broccoli will be cheaper as it has not been prepared or pre-packaged” and that “the difference in price reflects the need for processing and packing the Basics broccoli”.
So buyers beware, shop around for the better value deals and do not be mislead.
Source: World Poultry http://tinyurl.com/yl4ckeb
British food companies are selling products that contain meat from foreign countries, but labeling them “British” or “traditional”, according to research done by the British newspaper The Independent.
Supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-op sell some processed meals with ingredients sourced from overseas in a way that has raised complaints with customers.
A shepherd’s pie sold by Sainsbury’s as part of its British Classics range with a Union Jack on the packaging, is made with lamb from New Zealand. Another British Classics meal, Lancashire hotpot, also contains New Zealand lamb, along with Marks & Spencer’s “traditional favourite” shepherd’s pie.
All three list the meat’s country of origin somewhere on the packaging – unlike Birds Eye’s chicken dinner meal from its “British Traditional” range. The product carries a picture of rolling green fields reminiscent of the English countryside, but is made in a factory in the Republic of Ireland and contains intensively produced chicken from Thailand, says the report.
Birds Eye changed the product’s name from “Great British Menu” at the start of the year after complaints from members of the public. In small print on the back, the pack states the chicken comes from abroad but does not state its country of origin.
Rob Ward, founder of the Honest Food Labeling Campaign, said according to the Food Standards Agency, a food company cannot portray a product using words or images that misrepresent the food, so if they are using a scene of rolling countryside then that should imply those ingredients are from that scene.
Sainsbury’s insisted its labeling was “clear and transparent”.
Campaigners say products on supermarket shelves are misleading customers
By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Source: The Independent http://tinyurl.com/ya6u4fy
Food companies are selling products labelled “British” or “traditional” which contain meat from thousands of miles away, research for The Independent shows.
Supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-op now stock more British meat, but some sell processed meals with ingredients sourced from overseas in a way that may jar with customers.
A shepherd’s pie sold by Sainsbury’s as part of its British Classics range with a Union Jack on the packaging, is made with lamb from New Zealand, 11,000 miles away. Another British Classics meal, Lancashire hotpot, also contains New Zealand lamb, along with Marks & Spencer’s “traditional favourite” shepherd’s pie.
All three list the meat’s country of origin somewhere on the packaging – unlike Birds Eye’s chicken dinner meal from its “British Traditional” range.
The product carries a picture of rolling green fields reminiscent of the English countryside, but is made in a factory in the Republic of Ireland and contains intensively produced chicken from Thailand, 6,000 miles away. Birds Eye changed the product’s name from “Great British Menu” at the start of the year after complaints from members of the public. In small print on the back, the pack states the chicken comes from abroad but does not state its country of origin.
Rob Ward, founder of the Honest Food Labelling Campaign, said: “The Food Standards Agency (FSA) say you cannot portray a product using words or images that misrepresent the food, so if you are using a scene of rolling countryside then that should imply those ingredients are from that scene.
“More importantly, Birds Eye also mis-use the word ‘traditional’. The use of ‘traditional’ is defined by the FSA as something made in its original form, so a roast chicken dinner implies small-scale production, but clearly this is made in a factory in southern Ireland and it isn’t even made by Birds Eye.”
Mr Ward, who invites the public to vote on misleading marketing on his website, honestlabelling.com, said Sainsbury’s should not have used the term British Classic on a dish containing Antipodean meat, even if it was in season. “I think it’s wrong,” he said. “Sainsbury’s have announced they are only using British and Irish beef so that’s a great step forward … so clearly they believe it matters.”
Sainsbury’s insisted its labelling was “clear and transparent”. A spokesman said: “In this case the ‘Great British Classics’ name and use of the Union Jack is to highlight the fact that both shepherd’s pie and Lancashire hotpot are both uniquely British dishes. The packaging on both clearly states the lamb is from New Zealand and it is important to remember we only use New Zealand lamb when lamb is out of season in the UK.”
Birds Eye said: “We are always clear about the source of our ingredients. If any of our products, including our ‘Traditional Beef/Chicken Dinner’, are produced in the UK but contain meat which is sourced from other countries, then we clearly state this on the pack.”
Marks & Spencer was unavailable for comment.
Source: The Food & Drink Innovation Network – http://tinyurl.com/yfdv5cd
Two recent cases involving UK food companies once again highlight the wider problems and difficulties of labelling facing food manufacturers, according to experts at law firm Pinsent Masons.
In the last two weeks, there have been calls for lemonade brand Fentimans to be banned in the US for containing trace amounts of alcohol, while sandwich chain Pret a Manger has come under fire for not reporting the origins of the chicken and fish used in certain products.
Commenting on the stories, food regulation lawyer Pauline Munro said, “These sorts of cases, where labelling is being questioned, are becoming more and more common as consumers take a closer look at what’s contained in products. But Manufacturers face real difficulties when deciding how to label food products and what information to include – they have to abide by regulations, but they have to balance this with the need to brand, advertise and market their products using what little space is available to them on packaging and in-store displays.
“In the instance with Fentimans, the level of alcohol in the product was minimal, yet it was said by campaign groups in the US that it was passing itself off as ‘imitation liquor’, meaning it may end up being reclassified as an alcoholic beverage only available to those over 21. Meanwhile, Pret a Manger, who have admitted fish and chicken in some products was frozen and shipped from abroad, have come under fire from consumers who feel they’ve been mislead over the company’s ‘just made’ advertising tag-line.
“In both instances, neither company has done wrong by the letter of the law, but the spirit of food labelling is increasingly coming to the fore as consumers demand more transparency from manufacturers. These cases go to show that manufacturers need to ensure they are not only complying with the law on food labelling but also highlight the importance of making sure consumers are aware of what they are purchasing; getting it wrong can not only lead to prosecution, but also severe commercial damage. Fentimans has been able to shrug off much of the publicity around the story, and has even seen an increase in inquiries from consumers as a result, but Pret a Manger’s PR has not been so good. Until there is more guidance from regulators and collaboration between various parts of the industry on food labelling, we’re bound to see more stories like this in the future.”
By Isabel Davies
Source: FWI – http://tinyurl.com/yhf3q4o
A food labelling campaigner is claiming victory after Bird’s Eye agreed to drop the words ‘Great British Menu’ from a ready meal made with imported meat.
The packaging was highlighted by food champion Rob Ward as the sort which had the potential to mislead consumers when he launched the Honest Labelling Campaign.
The dish in question was described as ‘Great British Menu – Roast Chicken Dinner.’ However, the dish used imported meat and is manufactured in Republic of Ireland.
Mr Ward said he was pleased that the words had been changed, although he still thought that more could be done.
“They have removed the words ‘Great British Menu…’ and replaced it with ‘Traditional’, he said.
“I don’t think that this product, which is made in a substantial factory in Southern Ireland, reflects any traditional manufacturing process.”
A spokesperson for Bird’s Eye said: “Listening to our consumers is at the core of what we do and we were concerned to hear that some people found this particular product name misleading.
By: Sean Poulter
Source: Mail Online – http://tinyurl.com/yzx94sm
British farmers have reacted with fury after it emerged that Asda has been importing frozen turkeys from Brazil this Christmas.
They view the decision - the first time a major supermarket chain has sourced their Christmas turkeys from Brazil - as a shameful betrayal of British agriculture.
The farmers also complained that it is a huge waste of energy to buy, freeze and ship thousands of turkeys from 6,000 miles away when they could offer locally reared turkeys.
6,000-mile flight: Asda imported the birds from Brazil but many were not sold
The South American origin of the turkey is noted in the small print on the back of the packs but most shoppers are unlikely to check, assuming that supermarket turkeys are reared in this country.
The move by Asda - the UK’s second largest supermarket - is the latest evidence of leading retailers shipping in meat from places such as South America and Thailand without making the origins obvious.
Asda is understood to have flown in two consignments of whole turkeys and turkey crowns from Brazil thought to total more than 30,000 birds.
However, the Daily Mail has learned that it subsequently decided not to go ahead with the sale of the whole frozen turkeys because it was unhappy with the taste of the baste used to keep the bird moist during cooking.
It is still selling frozen turkey crowns from Brazil and said there are some 17,000 sitting on shelves. Despite higher transport costs, Brazilian farmers are still able to undercut their British rivals.
And for Asda customers, the Brazilian turkey crown is slightly cheaper, at £5.33 per kilo, than a frozen British equivalent, which costs the shopper £6.17 a kilo.
Charles Bourns, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union Poultry Committee, described Asda’s decision as ’shameful’.
He said: ‘This is the latest blow for British turkey producers who have not had the support they need from the big supermarkets over many years. British turkey production has come down from around 49million birds a year ten years ago to about 15million to 17million today. It is a very sad story.
‘I am told by a supplier that Asda will probably make an extra £100,000 from bringing in turkeys from Brazil, which does not seem much given all the hassle involved.
‘When we see that they have had to reject a significant number of the imported turkeys from Brazil it is easy to see the folly of the decision.
‘It really is a shameful betrayal of British producers.’
Asda has been crowing in recent days after it won an independent price comparison survey showing it was able to provide the cheapest Christmas dinner this year. But it appears part of this success is down to a reliance on cheap imports.
The supermarket will be putting fresh, all British turkeys on sale from Saturday at a higher price of £6.98 a kilo.
Mr Bourns said: ‘I can understand why, particularly in these difficult times, people will want to save £6 or £7 by going for an imported turkey, but they should have clear labels so they know where it is from.’
He said some butchers bring in turkey crowns from countries in Europe, such as Italy and Poland, and then pass them off as local.
An Asda spokesman said: ‘It’s the quality and taste of our food that we care about most, no matter where it comes from.’
She explained the decision to pull one batch, saying: ‘We weren’t 100 per cent happy with the taste of the baste on our Basted Whole Frozen Turkey, so rather than risk spoiling anyone’s Christmas dinner we took it off sale.’
Source: The times – http://tinyurl.com/yczc6zf
The village farmer’s market is going high-tech in its battle against the supermarkets by launching a website that allows shoppers to stroll around virtual stalls and buy artisan produce.
Fans of World of Warcraft may not appear to be the natural buyers of Cornish blue cheese, Five Fruit marmalade and Anglesey sea salt but the market trader behind the site believes that the ability to “meet” the farmer on the site will appeal to online shoppers who do not have time to visit traditional farmers’ markets.
Marcus Carter, a pâté maker who founded the Virtual Farmers Market site, said: “It’s the story of the food that everyone comes to the market for, and I thought surely we can reproduce that experience online.”
The site, which launches on New Year’s Day, employs the 3D technology used for developing video games to bring the virtual market to life. At first it will have 45 stalls selling condiments, meat, cheese, fish, soups, sweets and oils but it expects to showcase more than 100 in the future.
Mr Carter, who sells his family’s “Patchwork Pâté” at the King’s Road farmer’s market in West London every Wednesday, said customers could watch videos of the farmers to connect with the product. He added that previous attempts to create online markets had limited success as they simply listed products without making a link to the people behind them. He said: “There is a certain section of people who want to know where their food has come from that won’t trust a simple picture on a website.”
He argued that the site would appeal to customers who already shopped on the internet but wanted to find products that the online supermarkets do not stock. “People who shop in supermarkets and their sites tend to buy off a list, whereas people who visit delicatessens and farmer’s markets are more like hunter-gatherers. They’ll take £40 to spend but don’t know what they will buy before they see what is on offer.”
With a £35 minimum spend and a £12 charge for overnight delivery from the company’s London warehouse, the virtual farmer’s market is unlikely to appeal to bargain-hunters.
Mr Carter, who owns the site with Roger Saunt, his business partner, and spent £50,000 developing it, said the flat-fee charge reflected the cost of the company’s temperature-controlled boxes and using Parcelforce to send the produce. He added that the minimum spend ensured he would not lose money, as many online retailers do with small purchases, “if someone only orders two jars of marmalade”.
He said he was targeting £5 million in sales and 500 deliveries a day within three years.
Giving local producers a platform to reach customers at a national level meant they could scale up without selling through the giant supermarket chains, he said. “It’s small numbers for the likes of Tesco but it’s very large numbers for a Cornish cheese maker.”
Colin Boswell, who grows garlic on the Isle of Wight and has a stall at Borough Market in South London, already sells 15 to 20 per cent of his garlic through his own website. Mr Boswell thinks the new site should boost sales further as it will enable him to reach customers who would not have encountered him before.
Mr Boswell admits that he thought the idea sounded far-fetched at first but is now a believer, even if it is virtual: “Eventually we may be able to smell the garlic perfume down the ether.”
By The Poultry Site News Desk
Source: The Poultry Site - http://tinyurl.com/ybxksh5
UK – The National Farmers Union (NFU) is pleased that Tesco and Morrison’s have signed up to the Conservative Party’s ‘Honest Food’ campaign, which is aimed at letting consumers know where the food they are buying is reared and sourced.
Currently country of origin labelling law covers where the food is manufactured, meaning the place where the last substantial change is made to a product, and on most foods labelling is only required if it would be misleading not to. However, the Honest Food campaign wants to see new rules, which are in line with NFU lobbying, to see all fresh and processed meats as well as dairy products given country of origin labels. Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer have also added their support.
NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said, “Backing from Tesco for the Honest Food campaign is good news. The NFU would like to see all major retailers supporting this campaign to give their consumers the most accurate information about where their food comes from, and to stop misleading practices.
“We hope the new EU legislation on food labelling is used to make the country of origin labelling clearer so that consumers can make more informed choices when they shop. However, the new legislation will take years to come into effect so if the UK can move towards voluntarily labelling for country of origin this will allay our – and consumers’ – concerns. We look forward to seeing more evidence of retailer support for country of origin labelling on supermarket shelves.”
The NFU supports the Red Tractor logo which signifies to consumers which products have been grown and reared to independently inspected, quality assurance standards with the Union Flag in the logo denoting products that have been farmed, processed and packed in the UK, from field to fork.
Source: FOODnavigator.com - http://tinyurl.com/ydz3xb4
Food manufacturers in the UK were criticised again this week over misleading food labels when the findings of a new report suggested that labels “are more likely to confuse and mislead consumers than inform them”.
The report – published by the National Consumer Council (NCC) – claims that the sheer number of labelling schemes has caused confusion among consumers who do not know what the labels mean, and the NCC is calling for a new code of practice.
NCC chairman Deirdre Hutton said: “Our research shows that consumers do not understand what the majority of logos mean. What is needed are credible labelling schemes which have great potential to inform consumers and offer them real choices.”
The NCC survey – carried out in November 2001 and commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) – questioned a variety of respondents, including practising Jews and Muslims, low-income households, organic buyers and parents, and used a range of illustrative, branded and retailer own brand packaged foods as stimuli, including three labelling schemes.
Findings suggest that consumer confusion is caused by the fragmented approach to the way that food labelling schemes are developed and the sheer number of schemes. One consumer is quoted in the report as saying: “We want honesty, to be told the truth in black and white. A clear definition of what it stands for, up front, enabling consumers to make their own choice based on thinking and their pocket.”
So how has the food industry responded to the latest in a string of food labelling criticisms? Conciliatory words came rapidly from deputy director general of the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Martin Paterson: “Manufacturers need to be able to differentiate their products from their competitors in the marketplace, but do have to try and get across as much information to consumers on what can sometimes be a very small space.”
But the report findings suggest that this information, whether large or small, can be misleading.
Rosemary Hignett, head of Food Labelling at the FSA, said: “The Food Standards Agency welcomes this report. It shows that the food industry and supermarkets need to do more to help consumers make informed choices. There are too many confusing logos and claims on foods, and too little of the clear factual information consumers want.
In the report, the council recommends that the FSA develop a series of measures to include a code of practice with a commitment to involve consumers in the design of schemes and to communicate the benefits of schemes to consumers in plain English, a Good Labelling Guide to encourage transparency, and – perhaps most significantly – consistent definitions for food claims which should be clear, accurate and widely understood by consumers.
Both the FSA and the NCC stressed the absolute need for the food industry to work closely with the consumer organisations and the FSA in order to achieve the objectives. The FSA is already committed to working with consumers, enforcement authorities and industry to develop and promote good labelling practice and improve consumer education and advice on food labelling.
Deirdre Hutton commented: “The changes we recommend will not be possible without industry buy-in. It is essential that manufacturers and retailers sign up to the good governance code of practice if it is to work. There are significant advantages to industry if they adopt good labelling practice as the resulting increase in consumer confidence could lead to improved sales.”
And how does the industry feel? “The FDF will consider the NCC report and will continue to engage with the FSA on this and other aspects of its Food Labelling Action Plan,” assured Martin Paterson.
It is clear that industry action must be prompt and effective. The issue of food labelling is one which simply refuses to go away, and is in fact gaining in momentum by the year. Last year, for example, the UK Consumer Association, voicing its concern over misleading logos, launched the ‘Honest Labelling’ campaign, but the issue was already a cause for concern as far back as 1993, when Sustain (the alliance for better farming and food) launched the Food Advertising Project to ensure that food advertising encourages healthy eating to help improve the health of future generations.
Undeniably, manufacturers and retailers need to find routes to gain the advantage in an ever more competitive market. But it is undoubtedly in the interest of both the consumer and the food industry that the issue of food labelling is tackled once and for all. Enough talking, it’s time for action.
By Rob Ward
Source: Article Bliss - http://tinyurl.com/yarlfy7
Despite Defra’s efforts to promote honest food labelling, campaigner Rob Ward warns of the perils facing shoppers looking for high quality authentic food, and suggests we may be serving up more than one turkey this Christmas.
Thursday 10 December Defra are hosting a Christmas market in Covent Garden featuring producers of foods registered under the EU Protected Food Names Scheme. This scheme offers legal protection to smaller food manufacturers to ensure that the way they describe the origin and nature of their products cannot be used by other producers who don’t adhere to the same restrictions on where and how the product is made.
Business consultant and expert on food provenance, Rob Ward, said: “The scheme, and Defra’s effort to promote UK companies who bear its marque, is commendable. But it does highlight an irony. The producers at the market will have spent a good deal of time and effort (and therefore money) applying for their Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) or Traditional Speciality Guarantee (TSG) status.
“Meanwhile, our supermarket shelves remain stacked with products bearing misleading, ambiguous and, in some cases downright false, descriptions. Surely the burden should be on these companies to clean up their act, rather than on producers committed to honest labelling?”
Concerned that the wool was being pulled over consumers’ eyes by inaccurate and ambiguous labelling, Rob recently launched the Honest Food Labelling Campaign in a bid to fight food forgery. The campaign offers shoppers the opportunity to out sinners and praise angels in the food industry and hopes to use people power to force brands to make changes.
Ward explained: “Consumers have a right to be able to make informed choices about the food they buy and they can only do this if labelling is clear and honest, especially at this time of year when people are prepared to spend a bit more for what they believe to be authentic festive food.
“But they might be serving up a ‘real turkey’ rather than a real turkey for Christmas lunch. During my investigations I’ve spotted a feast of misleading labels. One example is a Tecos’British Goose Fat roasted Potatoes, British the potatoes maybe, but the Goose fat is not. Many more examples can be found at their Honest Labelling website.
And don’t forget – check the label on your festive fowl. If it doesn’t say ‘farm fresh turkey’ on the label, it isn’t a turkey fresh from the farm. And if it does, look for the TSG logo which proves it is what it says it is.”