UK Supermarkets providing misleading product origin information claims Which?

UK supermarkets have been accused of misleading consumers about the origin of grocery products by consumer watchdog Which?.

Retailers are required to clearly state a country or place of origin label on fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, as well as honey and wine. There is a requirement to provide origin labelling if it would be misleading not to.

In a survey of over 2,000 UK adults, Which? Found that only around half said they find the current origin information presented on groceries helpful, with 64 per cent stating they would be more likely to buy a product labelled as ‘British’.

While many UK supermarkets champion the UK origins of their produce, Which? found multiple examples in supermarkets of products with British branding containing non-British ingredients. It specifically cited bacon and cheese wraps from Aldi which had Union Jacks and ‘Made in Britain’ on the front of the pack but contained pork from the EU.

Similarly, the watchdog found examples of misleading signage and shelf labels in the stores it visited. In both Aldi and Asda fresh produce from countries like Morocco and Spain were sat on shelves adorned with branding that highlighted the British origin.

Going into more specific examples, Which? Concludes that origin labelling needs to be improved in order to help shoppers make informed decisions and that there is scope to improve country of origin labelling.

The organisation said that it would share its findings with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for its consultation on fairer food labelling, with Which? retail editor Ele Clark noting: “Which? research has uncovered a surprising amount of inconsistent and misleading food labelling, suggesting that - even when the rules are properly adhered to - consumers aren't getting all the information they want about their food's origin.

“Shoppers want to know where their food comes from for multiple reasons, including supporting British suppliers and making more sustainable choices.

A spokesperson from Aldi, which was most heavily criticised by the report, said: “We understand that our shoppers want to know where the food they buy comes from, and we work hard to ensure that all our labelling complies with the rules.”

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