A row over advertising has thrown the supply chains of two major supermarkets into sharp relief.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of Tesco in a row with Sainsbury’s about the former’s price promise, and the provenance of both supermarkets’ supplies.
Earlier this year Sainsbury’s launched a complaint that the Tesco price promise fails to take into account the provenance and ethics of own brand goods when comparing.
It cited the example of Tesco’s Everyday Value ham, which is sourced in the EU, compared to Sainsbury’s Basics ham, which is made with British pork. Tesco price matched these two items, but Sainsbury’s argues the two are not comparable because of its commitment to source sustainably.
The supermarket also mentioned its Basics Tea Bags are the same price as Tescos, making them more ethical, while with a price matched own-brand chicken korma Sainsbury’s had used British chicken, but Tesco had not.
Tesco argued that where origin is important – such as with Melton Mowbray pies – this is taken into account as a factor. But “where it isn’t a key factor for customers”, the supermarket does not use the source of supplies in its comparisons.
Mike Coupe, group commercial director at Sainsbury’s, said: “The arguments Tesco has used to defend its position include the suggestion that customers don’t actually care all that much about the provenance of their food or the ethical aspects of food production. We’re pretty sure that customers would disagree.”
“At Sainsbury's, responsible sourcing of the best quality food has always been an important part of who we are. That's why we've committed to doubling the amount of British food we sell by 2020. All our fresh chicken has been 100 per cent British for the last ten years, and now we've also achieved 100 per cent British for all our fresh pork.”
Nevertheless the ASA did not uphold Sainsbury’s complaint, suggesting that the products being compared meet the name need.
“While we acknowledged there would be differences in animal welfare and country of origin for the ingredients, we were satisfied that Tesco had taken those elements into account when identifying and matching products,” it said.
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