Supermarkets' supply chains in spotlight over 'chicken korma' row

6 August 2013

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7 August 2013 | Will Green

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of Tesco in a row with Sainsbury’s that has highlighted the two firms’ supply chains.

Sainsbury’s lodged a complaint with the ASA regarding an advertisement for Tesco’s ‘price promise’, which involves comparing baskets of goods from different supermarkets.

The advertisement included the phrase “You won’t lose out on big brands, own-label or fresh food”, but Sainsbury’s argued that this was misleading because the criteria Tesco used to match products did not take enough account of provenance and ethics.

The ASA said Tesco had price-matched its chicken korma curry “which Sainsbury’s understood contained chicken sourced from outside the UK” with the equivalent Sainsbury’s product made with British chicken.

Similar concerns were raised about Tesco’s Everyday Value ham – from pork sourced in the EU – and Sainsbury’s Basics ham – made with British pork, said the ASA.

However, the ASA did not uphold Sainsbury’s complaint.

In its ruling the ASA said: “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 and had compared on the basis of them meeting the same need.”

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.”

David Wood, UK marketing director at Tesco, said: “The origin of a product can be important and where it is, for example Melton Mowbray pies, we compare by origin, too. Where it isn’t a key factor for customers, we don’t let it stand in the way of making a common-sense comparison.”

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