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From wonky veg to Ribena bans: how UK supermarkets are changing

By Rachel O'Regan |


I Quit Sugar - From wonky veg to Ribena bans: how UK supermarkets are changing

Are you shopping around for the healthiest, most sustainable and ethical supermarket in the UK? You might have more to choose from than you think!

The UK has a wide variety of supermarkets, leading to plenty of competition not only for the lowest prices, but also the most environmentally friendly or socially aware brand.

Whether these stores are introducing wonky vegetables or taking sugary drinks off the shelves, the following changes certainly make it easier to lead an IQS-inspired lifestyle (as well as lining the stores’ pockets, of course!).

1. Actually selling imperfect veg (instead of throwing them out).

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s program, Hugh’s War on Waste, outraged viewers when they were showed 20 tons of parsnips chucked from a single farm… each week. Cue ranges of misshapen produce from Aldi, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Most recently, Asda began trialling the Wonky Veg Box (with enough fresh veg to feed a family of four for a week) as a response to a challenge by Jamie Oliver. Look at these TV chefs changing the world!

2. Taking sugary lunch box drinks off the shelves.

Twitter erupted last year when Tesco stopped selling Ribena. A single lunch box carton contains more than seven teaspoons of sugar, so we were pretty chuffed… until we found out that Tesco would still sell their own brand of sugary drinks marketed at children. Nice sales ploy, guys. We only hope this gets the ball rolling elsewhere.

3. Removing lollies from checkouts.

Thousands of beleaguered parents everywhere breathed a collective sigh in relief, as Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, The Cooperative, Asda, Lidl and Morrisons pulled confectionery from checkouts. Even M&S moved old Percy Pig to a more unobtrusive position. See ya, Perce.

Even pharmacies have got in on the action, with Boots promising to ditch sweets at checkouts by April. Psst… Australian supermarkets, are you listening?

4. Providing better welfare for dairy cows.

It’s crazy that basic care for dairy cows is not the considered the benchmark, but Waitrose’s new pledge to not use factory-farmed cows seriously highlights the issue. They now require that their cows graze outdoors for at least 100 days of the year. Meanwhile, Waitrose will sell farmers winter coats for their calves at cost price. Baby steps.

5. Choosing “green” renewable energy.

We have to tip our hats to Sainsbury’s. The supermarket has a policy of zero operational waste to landfill, either giving it to charity, animal feed or an anaerobic digestion facility which turns it into electricity. They even formed a new “green gas” partnership this year which reduce store carbon emissions by 24,000 tonnes per annum.

6. Supporting a sugar tax.

The UK Government may be taking its sweet time (pun intended) deciding on the sugar tax, but UK supermarkets have at least taken a stance. The British Retail Consortium (which represents Tesco and Sainsbury’s) said its members would accept a sugar tax to fight childhood obesity… ahem, Government?

7. Selling mini-avocados (yes, yes please!).

Did you know that supermarkets throw away avocados which are deemed too small for sale? Oh, it breaks our hearts to think about it. Thankfully, M&S is taking a stand and selling the little rejects at £2 ($4 AUD) a bag. And they’re just the right size for avo on toast.

What do you think about the changes to UK supermarkets? Is it a good start or do you think it’s time for something drastic?

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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