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FOE survey finds little local food in supermarkets

To make it easier for consumers to find local food in supermarkets in Nottingham we carried out a survey of them. We asked them if they specially sourced certain products locally and how customers could identify local produce. We also asked for the most local source of eleven everyday items including apples, potatoes, bread, milk, eggs, and poultry.
   The results were disappointing, but not unexpected: most supermarkets do not source produce locally except on occasion for certain speciality items such as Melton Mowbray pies.
   The most comprehensive reply was from the CO-OP which expressed a serious commitment to the principle of local food. It was the only company to supply a list of most local sources for the products we asked about. It revealed that while bread and some milk, eggs, and potatoes are sometimes sourced in Nottingham, the apples and pears it sells come from at least as far as Kent.
   The CO-OP points out that it supports local food by providing facilities for farmers’ markets at the Toton Superstore; it has also established links with local bakeries.
Conclusions
The supermarkets belong to huge, national companies and find it much more convenient to treat food distribution at the national and international level. Unless new legislation is introduced or the tax regime is modified (for example by taxing aviation fuel or reducing tax on local products), this is unlikely to change.
 
BEST CO-OP
  • very high level of awareness of issue
  • some good practice, but sourcing policy lagging behind this
  •   Tesco, Iceland
  • aware of issue
  • very marginal bias given to local produce
  •   Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Marks & Spencer
  • apparently unaware of any demand for local food
  • ‘local’ interpreted as ‘British’
  • WORST Kwik-Save
    Morrisons
  • no response
  • Further details: see full report,
    or National FOE's Food Campaign
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    Updated 16 June 2002 Home page Return to top of page