Shoppers have been left outraged after two leading supermarkets were found to be selling foreign squash and apples during peak British season.
Sara Venn, who works with small-scale farmers as part of her role at the Incredible Edible growing network, got in touch with Sainsbury’s to ask why all the squash on the shelves in her local store was grown in Greece and Portugal when it was peak British cropping time.
She was quickly inundated with shoppers responding to her tweet claiming they had been unable to find any British-grown squash in other Sainsbury’s stores such as Derby and Sussex.
Marks and Spencer also came in for criticism for stocking New Zealand ‘baby apples’ in a cumbersome plastic tube during peak British apple season.
What I found today in M&S is even better. Five "baby apples" from New Zealand in a plastic tube. It’s October in the UK. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/JXGfxvmRrZ— Sophie Leguil (@SLeguil)
Dear @marksandspencer are u aware of how many news articles there r talking about effects of plastic on wildlife? Packaging is unnecessary 👎— Carolyn (@darlingpixiefly)
And it’s spring in NZ so these aren’t even fresh seasonal, no wonder B.B. 27/10— Cassandra Booth 🌈 (@CassBoooth)
And it’s spring in NZ so these aren’t even fresh seasonal, no wonder B.B. 27/10— Cassandra Booth \uD83C\uDF08 (@CassBoooth) October 21, 2017
Poor show M&S, why sell NZ apples?!? Fabulous local produce at its peak right now. Have you forgotten to #BackBritishFarming?— HoldingOn4 (@liz_zorab)
Ms Venn said: “In my work I support local farms and small producers so I do not often go into supermarkets, but we were running into Sainsbury’s because we needed something quick.
“I picked up a squash and then realised it said it was grown in Greece. That is just crazy.
“Supermarkets are doing so much harm to British farming by being like this, and it is just heart breaking.
“It makes me really angry and really sad and upset for local producers.
“I would like to see supermarkets put in a position where they have to have a policy about local procurement.
“And I would also like a promise that if it is this time of year, and we know there are apples and squashes aplenty, I can go in store and buy them. I do not think this is a massive ask.”
Both Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer responded to Ms Venn’s complaints, saying they sourced products from different locations to ensure they were available to customers all year round.
The criticism follows a row earlier in the year over supermarkets’ refusal to stock British lamb over the Easter period.
MP and chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee Neil Parish wrote to the British Retail Consortium at the time to express his concerns about the amount of imported product in shops.