NFU Scotland Shelfwatch Identifies Mixed Support For Scottish Produce In Leading Supermarkets

Findings from first ShelfWatch of year appears to highlight strong support for British producers.

Industry news
Published: 08/02/2024

Initial analysis of the research undertaken on behalf of NFU Scotland has revealed which supermarkets are stocking Scottish produce, providing the Union with a clearer picture of what and where consumers are able to purchase locally produced goods.

Over a 48-hour period in late January, an independent research firm visited 71 stores across mainland Scotland.  Researchers looked at beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables and dairy products (milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt) on offer in Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Co-Op, Marks and Spencer, Lidl and Aldi stores.  In all over 15000 products were reviewed. Researchers reviewed the country of origin of products being offered by the stores’ own brands to identify if they were Scottish, British or imported.  Soft fruit is not included because it is currently 100% imported due to seasonality.

All retailers involved in the survey were notified in advance and invited to join a panel session at the AGM to discuss the results and outline their commitments to support Scottish farmers and crofters.

The results show:

  • Aldi has the largest percentage of Scottish produce overall (48.7%).
  • Sainsbury’s has the lowest percentage of Scottish produce overall (7.6%).
  • Three retailers (Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys) have less than 10% Scottish products overall.
  • The largest percentage of other produce was UK.

Breaking the results down into categories:

  • Aldi had the largest percentage of pork, bacon and sausages labelled as Scottish. Six retailers had no Scottish labelled pork. Most of the non-Scottish pork was UK. Asda (33%) and Tesco (17.3%) are importing fresh pork.
  • Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons had more than 70% of Scottish beef. The largest amount of beef in other stores came from UK. Tesco and Sainsburys had Irish beef, the largest was Sainsburys with 10.4%.
  • Lidl had the largest percentage (100%) Scottish lamb followed by M&S with 83.6%. Two retailers (Asda, Co-Op) had no Scottish lamb. Four retailers, Aldi, Asda, M&S and Tesco, had imported lamb with 55% of lamb on Asda shelves imported.
  • Aldi had the largest percentage (86.7%) of Scottish chicken followed by Co-Op with 73%. Two retailers, Tesco and Sainsburys, had no Scottish chicken.
  • Aldi had the largest percentage (100%) of Scottish eggs, Lidl had 96.4%.
  • Aldi had the largest percentage (100%) of Scottish potatoes, Tesco was the lowest with 6.4%.
  • Aldi had the largest percentage (61.8%) of Scottish vegetables and Co-Op was lowest at 4.8%.
  • M&S had the most Scottish milk (62.4%), Tesco had the lowest (30.7).

Sharing these high-level results from the Shelfwatch survey with delegates at the NFU Scotland Conference in Glasgow today (Thursday 8 February), NFU Scotland Chief Executive John Davidson said; “The results from the Shelfwatch survey unveil a completely mixed bag of what is going on in shops across the country and available to Scotland’s consumers. While it is encouraging to see that there is strong support for Scottish and UK produce in general and examples of some retailers stocking 100 percent Scottish, others appear to have absolutely none on their shelves in some sectors.

“Clearly more can be done to ensure consumers are able to source more locally produce. This also begs some questions on labeling and marketing and whether consumers have full transparency of the origin.

“These results provide us with a fantastic opportunity to not only hold retailers to account and accurately highlight to our consumers what’s going on in some shops, but also enables us give credit to those who are tremendous supporters of local food production within Scotland.

“We have loads of new data to analyse. We aim to use the good examples and results from this survey, the first of four planned for this year, to celebrate good practice and highlight how consumers and retailers can build their support for the amazing produce from our Scottish farmers and crofters. Nobody wants to rely on cheaper, imports exasperating a deepening food security crisis.  Our farmers and crofters can deliver on so many levels given the right conditions to support and help deliver a thriving economy, environment and rural communities. 

“Similarly, we will also use these positive results to inform discussions we have with those retailers who have been identified as having zero or low levels of Scottish produce available, to better understand any sourcing challenges they have and look to resolve these.

“The ways in which Scottish consumers can support local produce through the likes of local shops and butchers, farm shops, farmers’ markets, and direct sales from the farm are growing. But supermarkets remain the dominant force when it comes to food sales.  To succeed in our ultimate goal of seeing more Scottish produce stocked, priced and promoted on the shelves of supermarkets across the country appropriately and primary producers fairly rewarded for their critical role in the supply chain, we will need a collaborative approach with retailers and other key stakeholders including Governments to take ownership of their role within each supply chain.

“This Shelfwatch provides the ideal platform to benchmark against over the year ahead when looking for improvements in the marketplace and for these essential discussions with supermarkets on responsible treatment of suppliers and guaranteed delivery of a fair price to producers for the food they produce.”

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