Bananas – we love ’em but waste a lot

P1030766Bananas are the UK’s most popular health snack with 80% saying they like them,

We each eat three a week on average or 12kg a year and 20% of us eat one every day.

However we also throw away 160 million of them according to a survey by Sainsbury’s – enough to stretch from the UK to New Zealand.

One in three of us throw a banana away if it has the slightest blemish or black mark.

Someone wrote to the Times bout this saying that they got bruised because supermarkets store them the wrong way. They put them on the shelves “canoe” style rather than like an arch or hanging them which makes them bruise more easily.

Food waste is worse than packaging waste as it produces methane, which is more likely to cause global warning than carbon dioxide.

In total there may be £1 billion of food thrown away each year.

Sainsbury’s is trying out a series of initiatives to reduce food waste including making banana bread in its in-house bakeries using fruit at or past its sell-by date.

And it’s investing £1 million in its Swadlincote store to make it the official test-bed of ideas to cut waste.

Another supermarket, Tesco, which is the only one to publish annual figures on food waste, said its food waste had actually increased last year to the equivalent of one in a hundred food products being wasted.

Several stores have initiatives to reduce food waste including selling mis-shapen vegetables and donating to food banks.


Which supermarkets are still treating suppliers badly?

custom_text_delivery_truck_13837Well it’s Morrisons that has the worst record at the moment according to the industry watchdog, the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).

20% of a survey of 1,000 suppliers said that Morrisons rarely or never complied with industry rules governing supply chain relations. Recently Morrisons were forced to pay back £2 million they had demanded in cash from suppliers.

David Morrison, the Chief Executive of Morrisons was formerly with Tesco so has obviously carried over some of the bad tactics they previously used.

Now Tesco is considered the most improved main grocer in terms of supplier relations only 6 months after it was the subject of a major investigation and a scathing report.

Iceland and Asda were also thought be in breach of the legally binding code of practice.

On the positive side Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Lidl were most likely to comply consistently well with the rules.

The GCA Christine Tacon said that most of the ten supermarkets had improved their treatment of suppliers over the last 12 months although 1 in 3 suppliers still experience delays in getting paid and 1 in 4 said supermarkets had gone back on agreements.

So he wants to be able to double the GCA levy to £2 million a year and get the supermarkets that are not conforming to pay a bigger share. The GCA has the power to fine supermarkets 1% of their turnover if they don’t comply with the code.

There were 5 key issues she wanted to address in future:

  1. charges for artwork & design services
  2. delays in settling invoices
  3. payments demanded for margin maintenance
  4. payment demanded to maintain a supply
  5. payment for better positioning ins stores

A problem exists because suppliers are frightened to complain, less than half admitted they would make a complaint.

Wiltshire ham………but not as you know it!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)


Today I went to do some supermarket shopping and as is always my policy I try to buy British meat whenever possible to support the beleaguered farming comment in the UK. Two of my particular favourites are Yorkshire Ham and Wiltshire Ham, so as I made my way around ASDA supermarket in Huddersfield today I spotted some of the latter on the shelves.

It seemed a reasonable price so I put a pack in my basket and continued to make my way down to the wine department. As I slowly mad my way down the shopping aisles I happened to glance at the package of ham again and suddenly realised that I was not buying British meat. Under the bold lettering of “Breaded Wiltshire Ham” was some much smaller lettering saying “Danish pork leg formed and cooked to a Wiltshire cure recipe, topped with golden breadcrumbs”

I was somewhat shocked…

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How well does your supermarket treat its suppliers?

custom_text_delivery_truck_13837Tesco, Iceland, and Morrisons are the worst of the big supermarkets when it comes to dealing with their suppliers.

That’s according to a confidential survey carried out for the Groceries Code Adjudictor.

Aldi, Waitrose , and Marks and Spencer received top marks for adhering to best practice on things like prompt payment and handling complaints.

The survey report describes a culture of fear among suppliers many of whom feel they have to accept bullying tactics from supermarket buyers for fear of retribution.

Overall  last year 70% of suppliers had been treated in ways that breached the industry’s code, a drop from 79% the previous year.

Almost 10% more, at 47%, were willing to complain about issues like late payments, having to pay over the odds for packaging specified by the supermarket, demands for lump sums, and penalties for trivial complaints from shoppers.

There is a slow a problem with what is called “drop and drive” where suppliers’ consignments aren’t receipted properly leading to disputes over payment.

The majority don’t complain because they fear retribution and don’t have the confidence that the adjudicator will maintain confidentiality.

The industry adjudicator, Christine Tacon, can levy fines of up to 1% of UK turnover. Her first target was Tesco where it was found that they had booked millions of pounds profit  for in-store marketing and seasonal promotions and which led to a Serious Fraud Office investigation.

The Times asked supermarkets for a response.

Tesco said “Suppliers are at the heart of our business and we’ve been working with them to change the way in which we work together“.

Morrisons said “We are listening to the information from the survey although we don’t believe it reflects the generally positive nature of our relationships with our suppliers”.

Iceland declined to comment.

Suppliers who say supermarkets fail to meet code of conduct (YouGov survey)

  1. Tesco 39%
  2. Iceland 30%
  3. Morrisons 30%
  4. Co-op 25%
  5. Asda 15%
  6. Waitrose 12%
  7. Lidl 11%
  8. M & S 10%
  9. Sainsbury’s 9%
  10. Aldi 6%

See other posts about supermarkets and chickens, wines, prices, and junk food

First posted in June 2015

Praise for supermarkets

woman_walking_shopping_cart_1600_wht_8020I’m known to have given supermarkets a kicking in the past for their general customer disservice, putting profits before your health, and price fiddling.

This week however praise for two of them: Morrisons and Asda

Morrisons has promised to donate all its surplus food that is safe to eat to local community groups.

Normally such food is binned, even spoiled with bleach to discourage dumper-diving and usually gets sent to anaerobic digestion plants.

After trialling the idea in Yorkshire and the northeast the supermarket will now appoint community champions to liaise with  local groups that will supply volunteers to pick up the food. Each store should be able to provide 4 trolley loads of food.

Food banks are reluctant to take food that looks damaged e.g. broken biscuits but the idea is that anything that is still edible should be turned into food at community cafes, homeless shelters, and drop-in centres.

The food could include items past their “best before” dates because that relates to quality not safety and retailers aren’t legally allowed to donate food past its “use by” date.

In Leeds Morrisons donates to a night cafe run by The Real Junk Food Project whose staff collect food and turn it into meals within two hours and provide it on a “pay as you feel” basis.

And Asda, not my favourite supermarket by any means, has quietly reintroduced misshapen fruit and vegetables – without getting complaints from customers.

They began by adding the malformed (by their perfectionist standards) carrots and sweet potatoes to its packed bags and crates, relaxing its requirements that the products should all conform to a certain size and shape. They used slogans like “beautiful on the inside” and “wonky” vegetables.

Under the new regime up to 15% of the product in class 1 can be misshapen or superficially damaged. In some cases it allows a range of sizes.Wow just as nature intended! Asda admit they underestimated people’s tolerance for ugly veg.

The product should now be cheaper but Asda won’t say by how much (don’t hold your breath). Farmers are also happier as they can use less land to meet their orders and they typically get £350 a tonne for class 1 carrots but only £5 a tonne for those sent for animal feed. And 40% of crops can be wasted or used for animal feed.

Supermarkets in UK still selling contaminated chickens

Despite attempts by the Food Standards Agency to “name and shame” supermarkets there has been no reduction in chickens heavily contaminated with campylobacter, a major source of food poisoning causing 100 deaths a year.

In fact the proportion of heavily contaminated chickens has increased overall from 17% to 21%.

Asda has the worst record with almost 30% of its chickens having more than1,000 campylobacter bacteria per gram. Asda said that one of its chicken suppliers, Faccenda Foods, would start blasting birds with steam and ultrasound which can reduce the bacteria by 80%. However this process will only apply to 30% of Asda’s chickens so you’re playing Russian roulette when you buy a chicken from Asda.

The FSA said Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, The Co-op, and Waitrose had produced plans to reduce the problem and shared some results with the agency unlike Tesco and Sainsbury.

The results over the last year for heavily contaminated chicken were:

  • Asda 29.7%
  • Morrisons 22%
  • Co-op 19.1%
  • Waitrose 18.4%
  • M & S 17.4%
  • Sainsbury’s 16.4%
  • Tesco 12%

Increasingly chickens are being sold in bags which reduces the need to wash the chicken (which can spread the bacteria) or touch the skin with your hands.

No supermarket yet meets the standard agreed in 2010 of less than 10% of chickens having high levels of bacterial contamination.

See previous posts here

Find top wines on your supermarket shelves

wine_glass_toast_1600_wht_3574Supermarkets may not do so well when it comes to own label products but they can hold their own when it comes to a good bottle of wine.

Nearly 500 own-brand supermarket wines have won awards at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) contest. Medal-winning wines are blind-tested three times by at least 10 judges.

They awarded prizes to Aldi, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, The Co-operative, and Waitrose,  including 33 gold medals.

Also the number of English wine-makers winning prizes also almost doubled to 72 this year.

Marks & Spencer came out top with 169 medals including 12 gold and got special mention for its Mount Bluff NV sparkling chardonnay at £13.

Sainsbury’s were awarded 4 golds for the Blanc Champagne Brut NV at £20, its Taste the Difference Sancerre 2014 at £12.75, and the Pouilly Fume l’Anque 2014

Tesco won 5 gold medals and Morrisons 4 but Aldi had 2 gold  medals for its exquisite collection. Its Private Bin Sauvignn Blanc 2014 and its Clare Valley Riesling 2014 topped a list of the most widely available gold medallists picked by the IWC for the Times.

Among others rated “ten of the best” by the IWC were:

  • Asda’s Extra Special El Mesón Gran Reserva 2005 at £9.98
  • Marks & Spencer’s Stepp Riesling S, Kalltstadter Saumagen 2013 at £15
  • Morrison‘s Signature Chablis le Cru 2013 at £12.99
  • Morrison‘s Amontillado Sherry NV at £6.99
  • Sainsbury‘s Winemakers Selection by Blanc de Blancs Brut NV at £20
  • Tesco‘s Finest Dessert Semillon 2009 at £6.79
  • Tesco‘s Finest Vintage Grand  Cru Champagne 2007 at £24.99

So no excuse not to have a decent glass of wine!


Own brand foods doing well at discounters

gold_medal_award_first_place_1600_wht_3719In the Own Label Food & Drinks Survey run by the Grocer magazine, which tests over 1,000 products, Aldi and Lidl beat some of the established big supermarkets. Only ASDA performed as well.

Aldi and Lidl both won 18 gold medals.

The food is judged by both shoppers and a panel of judges.

Aldi’s prizes were for its specially selected vine tomato and lentil soup, Moser Roth Madagascan vanilla chocolate, specially selected continental plum crumble tart, and balsamic vinegar.

Lidl won gold for its seeded haddock fillets, hot smoked salmon fillet with black pepper, and its steak and ale pie.

Iceland won 2 gold medals for its ultra-thin meat feast pizza made in Italy and for its duck spring rolls.

Costcutter won a gold for its specialist Thai sweet chilli crisps.

Spar won one for its packs of mixed olives with chilli.

Of the big stores Marks and Spencer won 8 golds; Sainsbury’s won nothing.

On that last point I’m not surprised. I recently went in Sainsbury’s looking for some cranberry juice and they only had own brand made from concentrate and their freshly squeezed orange juice was tasteless.

The report in the Times doesn’t mention Tesco but I’ve thrown more food away lately including a lasagne and a cheesecake as they were tasteless.


Mike the Psych's Blog

If you think that you get good value from your supermarkets maybe you should think again.

All the price cutting campaigns appear to be just smokescreens to actually increase the cost of your basket.

The Sunday Timesreported on research at Warwick University which examined prices between 2003 until the end of 2010. They found that supermarkets would reduce prices on lots of items by amounts as small as 1p but at the same time increase the price on others by up to 10p.

The researchers think the stores are exploiting the “number blindness” experienced by shoppers faced with hundreds, if not thousands, of price changes.

The ST article gives examples such as Tesco changing the price of Dolmio microwave sauce 88 times over the 8 year period. 40 of the changes were 1p reductions but others were increases of up to 10p.

Sainsbury’s did something similar with…

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