Just How Sustainable Are UK Supermarkets?

A recent report by Consumer Focus (formerly known as the National Consumer Council) has rated the main UK supermarket groups on their ability to help their customers shop more sustainably. The report is entitled “Green to the core? How supermarkets can help make greener shopping easier” It can be downloaded from www.consumerfocus.org.uk

This is the third such survey and the first in which two supermarkets (Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencers) have both received an overall  A rating (= excellent). Waitrose received a B, whilst The Co-op, Morrisons and Tesco were all rated C. The gap between the best and worst supermarkets appears to be growing.

Highlights of the research:

  • 54% of customers interviewed by Consumer Focus said that they are buying more environmentally responsible products compared to two years ago against 3% who said they are buying less
  • 92% of the seasonal produce surveyed in Waitrose was sourced from the UK: Sainsbury’s and Morrisons were reasonably close behind, sourcing 83% and 81% respectively. Asda performed particularly badly with only 59% of the produce surveyed sourced from the UK – a 10% drop since 2007.
  • Aldi and Lidl both scored D’s overall. However Aldi stocked the highest proportion of products certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and that were recycled (96%). Despite such supermarkets having an overwhelming focus on price the report notes that  “there are still areas where sustainability and value can overlap”

Simon Wright 10.11.09