Political opinion: Campaign pursued by Henry Smith MP to ‘Buy British’ marks further success

This item was submitted by the office of Henry Smith MP. Following a campaign pursued by Henry Smith MP calling for a ‘Buy British’ section on supermarkets’ online stores, three more stores have implemented a ‘Best of British’ section for online shoppers.

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Ocado, Waitrose and Co-op have become the latest stores to sign up to this campaign which is being backed by the Crawley MP.

Henry said: “I’m pleased to see Ocado, Waitrose and Co-op have all launched ‘Buy British’ sections online following our calls for a dedicated section which collates homegrown produce.

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“The reaction to this campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, with food producers and consumers asking why supermarkets weren’t doing it already.

Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017
Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017

“I applaud Ocado, Waitrose and Co-op for their leadership and trust other supermarkets will realise the importance of promoting homegrown produce and implement a ‘Buy British’ tab soon.”

In August 2023, the Crawley MP and more than 100 other parliamentarians signed an open letter calling on supermarkets to highlight the very best of British produce by implementing a ‘Buy British’ section online.

The letter, written by Bosworth MP Dr Luke Evans, stated ‘Our ask is simple, create a tab that collates produce from farmers,’ citing consumer choice, environmental benefits and support for farmers as reasons to make the change.

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The three shops follow Morrisons, Aldi and Sainsbury’s who have all launched online sections collating British produce since Henry Smith MP signed the open letter, which has started a discussion on the nation’s food security and the environmental benefits of buying homegrown produce.

Dr Luke Evans MP commented: “Implementing a ‘Buy British’ section online is a relatively simple change that gives consumers greater choice, supports our farmers and cuts down on unnecessary food miles. Better still, this hasn’t required any legislation; this is farmers, MPs, supermarkets and the public all working together – with Government backing – to make a change!

“I’ll be following up with the likes of Tesco and Asda, who have yet to make the change, in the hope that they follow suit soon.”

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Steve Barclay, added;

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“UK farmers produce exceptional food to world-class standards. It’s great to see British supermarkets celebrating homegrown and reared produce by making it easier for customers to back our farmers and choose British food.”

The Deputy President of the National Farmers’ Union, David Exwood, said: “It’s really pleasing to see so many supermarkets supporting Dr Luke Evans’ fantastic campaign and backing British farmers and growers by adding buy British sections to their websites in order to signpost shoppers to homegrown produce.

“We know from our own independent research that the public want to buy more British food from retailers and why we have been championing this important issue for some time.”

The Chief Commercial Officer at Ocado Retail, Amit Chitnis, commented: “Our Best of British aisle comes in response to rising demand from our customers for more homegrown produce. Where we can, we will always try to source locally as our first choice whenever possible. So, we’re proud to have gathered a range of over 800 quality products that are British all year round in an easy-to-shop aisle on site spanning fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy.”

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The Propositions Director at Co-op, Adele Balmforth, said: “As a member-owned organisation, we know food provenance really matters to our member owners, and we continue our longstanding support for British farmers, growers and local suppliers, championing homegrown produce, protein and products.

“The new Best of British page on our online platform, make it easier and quicker for our customers to buy British, which means we support local livelihoods and give our customers what they want.”

A spokesperson for Waitrose said: “We are really proud of our British farmers. We do a great deal to promote the care and effort they put into producing food to our customers online and in our shops. We back our farmers by paying them a fair price for the high standards of environmental and animal welfare standards they deliver for us and offer our customers their high-quality food at great value.

“We have recently added a ‘Best of British’ section to Waitrose.com. It includes some of our products which are 100 per cent British all year round, such as fresh eggs, meat and milk. If it is a success with our customers we will consider expanding on it.”

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