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Largest UK Supermarket Bans Candy from Checkout

Largest UK Supermarket Bans Candy from Checkout

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Living in the UK? Don't count on getting your candy fix at the checkout anymore.

There’s almost nothing more tempting when you’re on a diet or watching what you eat than the checkout aisle of a grocery store. British supermarket chain Tesco, the largest in the UK, decided to do something about helping their customers eat healthy by banning candy and sweets from the checkout areas of all Tesco stores, eliminating last-minute sugary temptation. Large Tesco stores haven’t carried chocolates in the aisles for 20 years, but now the rule applies to their metro and express outlets as well.

"We're doing this now because our customers have told us that removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts will help them make healthier choices," Phillip Clarke, chief executive at Tesco, said in a statement."We've already removed billions of calories from our soft drinks, sandwiches, and ready meal ranges by changing the recipes to reduce their sugar, salt, and fat content. And we will continue to look for opportunities to take out more.”

The move comes after two-thirds of Tesco customers surveyed said that removing the sweets from the checkout lanes would help them eat healthier and make healthier choices for their children. No word yet on whether American grocery stores will follow suit.

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi

Aldi to introduce 'healthier tills' at all 500 of its UK stores by January 2015

The discount grocer Aldi has become the latest supermarket to introduce "healthier tills" at all of its stores across the UK, though the change will not happen until January 2015.

All confectionery, chocolate and sweets will be removed from stands at Aldi's checkouts and replaced with healthier options including dried fruit, nuts, juices and water.

The move follows a 16-week trial in a selected number of Aldi's 500 UK stores which ran from February to June this year.

Giles Hurley, joint managing director of corporate buying at the supermarket, said: "The healthier tills trial quickly showed that healthier foods prove more popular with our shoppers than the traditional checkout offer of confectionery and sweets."

The UK's largest retailer, Tesco, announced in May that it was to ban sweets and chocolates from its checkouts after a survey of customers showed overwhelming support for the move.

In January, Aldi's German discount competitor, Lidl, banned confectionery from the checkout at all 600 of its British stores after a survey of parents' views. It replaced racks of sweets at the tills with dried and fresh fruit, oatcakes and juices.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of the consumer group Which?, said: "It is welcome news that Aldi is promoting healthier tills across all of its stores. We want all retailers to ensure that product positioning, particularly at the checkout, helps people to make healthier choices."

Tesco bans sweets and chocolates from the checkout

Tesco is removing all sweets and chocolates from the checkouts across its more than 3,100 UK stores, while Morrisons is also pulling back with plans to remove confectionery from one in five checkouts, as supermarkets react to rising pressure from customers and the government.

Tesco is banning sweets and chocolate from the checkout

Tesco said its decision comes after research found that nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of shoppers said removing confectionery would help them make healthier eating choices, while 67 per cent of parents said it would help them make better choices for their children.

The supermarket will trial offering a variety of healthier products at checkout, with the full change to be implemented by the end of the year. Morrisons, meanwhile, will look to offer consumers a choice, removing sweets, crisps and chocolate from one in five checkouts at its larger supermarkets, although not its M Local convenience stores, by July.

Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke says: &ldquoWe all know how easy it is to be tempted by sugary snacks at the checkout, and we want to help our customers lead healthier lives. We&rsquore doing this now because our customers have told us that removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts will help them make healthier choices.&rdquo

The government in October put getting supermarkets to get rid of treats at checkouts back on the agenda as part of their &ldquoResponsibility Deal&rdquo commitments, a voluntary code to help improve UK health. However, none of the major four supermarkets had yet signed up, although Lidl vowed to remove sweets, chocolate and crisps from its tills earlier this year.

Tesco has now gone the furthest of the big four supermarkets. Like rival Sainsbury&rsquos, Tesco removed such products from checkouts at its large stores a number of years ago. This extends that strategy to smaller format Tesco Express and Tesco Metro stores.

Sainsbury&rsquos says it will still offer confectionery at its convenience locations and has no plans to change its strategy. Asda says it believes in offering customers&rsquo choice and encouraging healthy lifestyles and therefore offers customers a range of different products including batteries, magazines, toiletries and some treats.

The move follows Tesco&rsquos commitment, announced last year, to help customers make healthier eating choices as part of its &ldquoTesco and Society&rdquo promise to &ldquouse its scale for good&rdquo. Its other ambitions include reducing food waste and creating opportunities health.

It has already cut calories from a number of its own-label brands and changed recipes to reduce sugar, salt and fat content. Last year it also became the first supermarket to reveal food waste figures, showing that waste at its stores and distribution centres reached 28,500 tonnes in the first six months of 2013.

Speaking at an OysterCatchers panel on trust earlier this week (20 May), Tesco Bank chief executive Benny Higgins said it was important gestures like Tesco pulling sweets from tills channeled the &ldquoauthenticity&rdquo of the business and weren&rsquot marketing ploys.

He said: &ldquoBusiness at its best is when it is prepared to put the customer before the P&L [sheet] in the short run. It&rsquos things like taking confectionery away from tills, introducing 24-hour stores and introducing a Clubcard points system that would take away 25 per cent of your margin. All these things are right for the consumer and if a business is consistently doing that then they will come back.&rdquo

Berkeley Bans So-Called Junk Food from Checkout Aisles

Last month, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the nation to ban so-called "junk food" from grocery checkout aisles. Food with more than 5 grams added sugar or 200 mg sodium will be banished from the checkout aisle. The ordinance takes effect next year, with enforcement set to phase in starting in 2022.

"Grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet will no longer be allowed to sell unhealthy food and beverages at the checkout line, and instead will be encouraged to offer more nutritious food and drink," the San Jose Mercury News reported . "Gone will be chips, candy bars, sodas and other sweetened beverages."

The ordinance impacts around two-dozen stores in Berkeley, including Safeway, Whole Foods, CVS, Walgreens, and two independent grocers, along with all of their customers.

The ordinance was supported with the help of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit that's long advocated for government intervention to restrict or alter people's food choices.

"The Center for Science in the Public Interest has created a suggested list of products that meet the criteria of the ordinance," the ordinance notes. Sure enough, CSPI says traditional checkout items—such as bubble gum, candy bars, Slim Jims—will yield to " fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy, whole grains, and chewing gum and mints with no added sugars." (Note the photo accompanying the CSPI post doesn't show a checkout area but does appear instead to show a sterile grocery aisle&hellipin Italy.)

Beyond sugarless gum or snack bags of nuts or seeds, most of the items don't seem checkout-realistic. Legumes? As in, like, a can of beans? Yup.

"Fresh, canned, or otherwise hermetically sealed dried fruits, vegetables, or legumes with no more than 5 grams added sugars," the ordinance recommends.

The impetus for the ban appears to be a belief on the part of Berkeley lawmakers that parents are powerless over their 5-year-olds.

"Cheap, ready-to-eat foods high in salt, saturated fat, and added sugars dominate checkout aisles, where shoppers are more likely to make impulse purchases and where parents struggle with their children over demands to buy treats at the end of a shopping trip," the ordinance itself declares.

" We're not saying you can't have these goods," says Berkeley Councilmember Kate Harrison. "We're just saying they're not going to be right at the eye level of your children when they walk into the store and you're waiting in that long line at check out."

(I suspect I'll never be a fan of any law that requires a " We're not saying&hellip. We're just saying&hellip" explanation and justification.)

In 2014, Berkeley was also the first in the nation to adopt a soda tax. Predictably, that tax—which helped usher in a statewide ban on similar taxes—has reduced soda consumption in Berkeley. I've seen no evidence it's achieved its stated goal of combating obesity and other nutrition-related diseases. That Berkeley sees the need to adopt the new checkout ordinance to, well, do the same thing—combat obesity and other nutrition-related diseases—doesn't exactly suggest the soda tax is working.

It wouldn't be the first tax or ban of its ilk to fail. Indeed, there's plenty of independent research out there that shows the folly of lawmakers who believe they can legislate us thin.

In 2011, Denmark's conservative government adopted a "fat tax," targeting a host of putatively unhealthy foods. But, as I explained here , the tax was a disaster. It didn't change eating habits, didn't combat obesity, resulted in higher consumer prices, and caused something on the order of 1,000 job losses. Just a year later, in 2012, the new liberal government repealed the tax. In other words, the fat tax was a flop.

In 2007, the Los Angeles City Council banned new fast-food restaurants from South Los Angeles. The move was intended to combat obesity there. In 2015, the RAND Corporation released a National Cancer Institute-sponsored study on the results from South Los Angeles.

"Since the fast-food restrictions were passed in 2008, overweight and obesity rates in South Los Angeles and other neighborhoods targeted by the law have increased faster than in other parts of the city or other parts of the county," RAND reported . In other words, the fast-food ban was a flop.

In a 2014 column , I focused on a first-of-its-kind Minneapolis effort, the Staple Foods Ordinance, that required many convenience stores and gas stations to stock fresh produce and other "healthy" foods. That ordinance cost Minneapolis shop owners thousands of dollars in lost sales and wasted food. A subsequent study , published last year in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity , compared Minneapolis with neighboring St. Paul, which had no such ordinance. The study found " no significant differences " in food buying habits between people in the two cities and concluded, "[f] ew changes were observed in the healthfulness of customer purchases or the healthfulness of home food environments." In other words, the Staple Foods Ordinance was a flop.

In 2014, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded study on four cities' efforts to force small grocers to sell healthier foods concluded that "interventionists and researchers working in this area must focus as much effort on increasing customer demand for healthy products as they do on improving store supply of these products for such interventions to be successful."

In other words, cities can pass all the healthy food ordinances they like. But if stores are forced to offer putatively healthier foods that customers don't buy, then those ordinances will have made everyone worse off and no one better off.

Do Berkeley businesses impacted by the new checkout ordinance have any recourse? Here's one: sell sugar —including 5-pound bags of cane sugar, those cute little bear-shaped honey containers, pure maple syrup, and the like. Since none of those foods contains added sugar and little if any sodium, I suspect they'd be allowed in the checkout aisle under the Berkeley ordinance. How sweet it is.

Eating plenty of fruits and veggies is vital to good health, but sadly, these items can cost a small fortune. Rather than buying them at the supermarket, cut out the middleman by heading to your local farmer’s market where you can get the freshest produce -- that is also guaranteed organic. You might also look into joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which will not only benefit your wallet, but will directly help farmers, too.

Resist the urge to throw that pack of baby diapers into your cart because it's a good grocery store deal the mere price of convenience is a steep one. The real savings are at big-box stores such as Costco and Walmart -- or if you really want to save -- going the old-school cloth route.

Where else can you buy groceries in London?

From Italian grocers to department stores, there are tons of places to buy groceries in London. It’s one of the biggest benefits of living in the capital.

Aside from the major London grocery shops I described earlier, here are some places you might see in your neighborhood:

  • Marks and Spencers – This posh department store chain sells groceries and prepared foods at its M&S Foodhall and M&S Simply Food locations.
  • The Co-op – A member-owned, mid-range supermarket that also provides legal and funeral services to members
  • Whole Foods – The same organic, eco-friendly brand you’ll find in the US
  • Iceland – Another discount food shop similar to ALDI and Lidl
  • Butchers, bakers, fishmongers, etc. – If you care about quality, go straight to the experts
  • Regional food stores – Many neighborhoods have country-specific shops like Italian markets (or the American Food Store)
  • Farmers’ markets – London has a vast network of farmers’ markets that rotate through local communities one day a week

L.A. OKs ban on plastic bags at checkout

Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines, handing a hard-fought victory to environmentalists and promising to change the way Angelenos do their grocery shopping.

The City Council voted 13 to 1 to phase out plastic bags over the next 16 months at an estimated 7,500 stores, meaning shoppers will need to bring reusable bags or purchase paper bags for 10 cents each.

The ban came after years of campaigning by clean-water advocates who said it would reduce the amount of trash in landfills, the region’s waterways and the ocean. They estimate Californians use 12 billion plastic bags a year and that less than 5% of the state’s plastic bags are recycled.

Los Angeles becomes the latest in a string of California cities — including San Jose, San Francisco and Long Beach — to ban plastic bags.

Plastic bag bans across California vary in scale, with some applying to all retailers and restaurants, and others covering only supermarkets. Some are silent on paper bags while others, like Los Angeles County’s, require markets to charge customers who want to use paper bags.

Officials in some cities with bag bans hail the program as a success.

Santa Monica’s plastic bag ban has been in place since September. “There’ve been no citations necessary to give out,” said Josephine Miller, a city environmental analyst. “No stores have gone out of business.”

San Francisco approved the state’s first plastic bag ban in 2007, applying it only to supermarkets and pharmacies. Since then, officials have moved to expand the bag restrictions, which has drawn a legal challenge.

Despite initial grumbling from customers and business owners, the public has gotten used to bringing their own bags, said David Assmann, a manager in San Francisco’s environment department. “I think it’s become part of the culture here,” he said.

In Los Angeles County, the 10-cent paper bag fee has led to a 94% reduction in the use of those bags, said Jennie R. Romer, founder of, who has advised cities on the passage of bag laws.

Things went less smoothly in Oakland, which was successfully sued over its ban. That city dropped its measure but will be covered by Alameda County’s plastic bag ban starting next year.

Council members in Los Angeles were urged on Wednesday by actressJulia Louis-Dreyfusand an array of environmental groups. As they prepared to approve the ban, city lawmakers called on their counterparts in the state capital to follow suit.

“Let’s get the message to Sacramento that it’s time to go statewide,” said Councilman Ed Reyes, who is pushing an effort to revitalize the Los Angeles River.

The council’s decision kicks off a four-month environmental review, followed by what is expected to be routine passage of an ordinance enacting the ban. At that point, larger stores will have six months to stop handing out plastic bags, and smaller markets will have 12 months. After that, retailers would be required to charge 10 cents for each paper bag they provide customers.

As they celebrated their action, council members quietly backed away from a more controversial plan to also ban use of paper grocery bags, first proposed last year by appointees of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“My hope is that so few paper bags will be used as a result of this measure that the formal ban … on paper bags may not even be necessary,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, who initially had hoped to prohibit paper as well.

Councilman Bernard C. Parks cast the lone opposing vote, saying the city lacked information on potential health hazards from reusable bags.

Employees of plastic bag companies — many in T-shirts with the message “Don’t Kill My Job” — pleaded unsuccessfully with council members to change course, saying they feared they would soon be unemployed.

An industry group warned that the council’s decision will threaten the jobs of 2,000 workers statewide and said it is keeping open the option of filing a legal challenge. “With this bag ban, the city chose to take a simplistic approach that takes away consumer choice instead of pursuing meaningful programs that encourage greater recycling of plastic bags and wraps, while preserving jobs,” said Mark Daniels, chairman of the nonprofit American Progressive Bag Alliance.

In East Los Angeles, a community already covered by a county ordinance barring plastic bags, some families are still getting used to the change.

Standing in a crowded parking lot outside El Super grocery store, Veronica Perez used a reusable Trader Joe’s bag but found herself longing for plastic. Perez, 32, said plastic bags are preferable for her five-block walk home from the supermarket.

“I wish they could bring them back,” said the Boyle Heights resident. “I get that it’s better for the environment, but it’s a lot to remember — bringing a reusable bag — especially if you’re in a rush.”

At a Vons in Echo Park, inside L.A.'s city limits, the approaching ban was being taken in stride.

Sylvia Esparza, 22, said she already tries not to use plastic and has a drawer full of reusable cloth bags. “So many people use so many plastic bags, and they just get thrown away,” she said.

Are supermarkets doing enough to reduce single-use plastic waste?

By Jodi Helmer
Published April 5, 2021 11:30AM (UTC)

(Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)


This article originally appeared on FoodPrint.

Plastic is ubiquitous in supermarkets. Produce packaged in clamshell containers water bottles and jugs, peanut butter canisters, salad dressings in plastic bottles and jars and pasta boxes with miniature plastic windows line almost every shelf.

Those small pieces of plastic in your shopping cart add up to mountains of plastic waste. The U.S. generates 42 million metric tons of plastic waste each year and most ends up in oceans or landfills where it takes up to 500 years to break down. Your weekly shopping trip generates a significant portion of plastic waste.

"Supermarkets are where the average consumer encounters the most throwaway plastics," says John Hocevar, marine biologist and oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA.

Data about single-use plastic waste in supermarkets in the U.S. is scant but a Greenpeace UK report found that seven of the top supermarkets in the U.K. were responsible for putting 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging — or 2,000 pieces for each household — into the environment annually.

In the U.S., food containers and packaging generate more than 82 million tons of waste each year and the single-use plastic packaging in supermarkets ranks as the largest contributor to plastic waste — and supermarkets are failing when it comes to tackling the problem.

The recently released 2021 Supermarket Plastics Ranking report from Greenpeace USA ranked 20 supermarkets based on their efforts to address plastic pollution and all received failing grades.

Giant Eagle, the highest ranked supermarket in the new report with a score of 38.8 out of 100, committed to eliminating all single-use plastics in its stores by 2025 Kroger announced a goal for all of its store brand packaging to be 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable ALDI set a similar goal and committed to a 15% reduction in the packaging of its store products by 2025.

Greenpeace UK reported that half of supermarkets had no specific targets to reduce plastic waste and those that did had such modest goals that it would take decades for single-use plastics to disappear from store shelves.

"The future is in reuse and it needs to be a big part of how grocery retailers do business," Hocevar says. "Plastic [reduction] is still a low priority for retailers [and] these companies still have a long way to go to reach their goals."

Pandemic pushback

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the problem worse.

Thanks to an uptick in takeout and home deliveries and bans on reusable coffee cups and reusable bags, plastic waste increased 30%t in 2020. Bulk bins were off limits, too, with grocers like Stop and Shop, Tops and Whole Foods closing or limiting bulk offerings and banning refillable containers.

The Plastics Industry Association promoted single-use plastic products as "the most sanitary choice" and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued draft recommendations encouraging restaurants to prioritize disposable items to minimize virus exposure. Grocers pointed to those claims as evidence that supported the return to single-use plastics.

In a Greenpeace USA statement released last June, a group of virologists, epidemiologists and health experts agreed that the risk of transmitting COVID-19 via surface contact was slim and reusables were safe and should be encouraged.

Although some cities have reversed their pandemic-inspired plastic bag bans and allowed stores to reopen their bulk bins, the problem of single-use plastic waste persists.

A love of convenience and recycling's false promise

"Our consumerism drives demand in plastics," explains Rachel A. Meidl, LP.D., CHMM, a fellow in energy and environment at the Baker Institute for Public Policy. "The widespread use of plastics is driven by our desire for convenient, portable, lightweight products . . . that results in low quality mixed polymers that are impossible to recycle within our current systems."

Indeed, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data shows that just 8.7% of plastics are recycled, in part because of a lack of facilities. Consumers who are committed to recycling might be duped into choosing single-use plastics. In 2020, Greenpeace USA filed a lawsuit against Walmart, claiming that the retail giant was labeling single-use plastics as recyclable despite a lack of access to facilities to separate them from the waste stream for recycling.

"If plastic packaging that is not recyclable is haphazardly tossed into the recycle bin, it contaminates higher quality polymers that are recyclable and, due to cost of segregation and sorting, the entire bin will likely be routed to landfill or incinerator," Meidl says.

Or, it gets shipped overseas. The US exports more than 2.5 billion pounds of plastic waste to poor nations like Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand (after China refused to accept more discarded plastics). In 2019, 189 countries agreed to limit the amount of plastic waste shipped overseas as part of the Basel Convention. The latest data shows that overall scrap exports remain unchanged.

Manufacturers are exploring alternative packaging options but an obvious replacement for single-use plastics has not emerged — yet.

"There are a lot of obstacles," admits Yael Vodovotz Ph.D, professor of food science and technology at The Ohio State University.

Vodovotz cites cost limited access to raw materials to replace the volume of petroleum-derived plastics and challenges designing strong, biodegradable, food safe packaging. Polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhyroxyalkanoates (PHA), bioplastics made from fermented feedstock, have emerged as possible solutions but research is ongoing and production is limited.

"It's not going to happen overnight we need to look at incremental changes," Vodovotz adds. "If we take a plastic that takes 400 years to degrade and get it [to degrade] in five years, we're doing a great job."

Zeroing in on sustainable solutions

Zero waste grocery stores have emerged as one option. The stores stock products ranging from coffee and cereal to flour and olive oil in clear self-service containers that are dispensed into reusable containers the goods are weighed at the checkout.

"Grocers need to build up reuse and refill offerings and offer more package-free options," Hocevar adds. "There are a lot of good options out there…and retailers, once they take responsibility for what they sell, can have an enormous influence."

The website Litterless maintains a database of markets in the US are zero waste or that offer some refillable options like bulk bins, but the options are extremely limited. There are just nine grocers in Denver, eight in Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis. Loop is one of the few national options: The zero waste grocery delivery service stocks brands like Haagen-Dazs, Nature's Path, Tropicana, Crest and Clorox. Items are packaged in reusable containers when the containers are empty, the packaging is returned via a postage-paid reusable tote. Currently, the online retailer stocks 100 items and most are toiletries.

Although the number of zero waste options are growing, it's still not a mainstream concept — and Meidl warns that it might solve one problem but create another.

"Reusable containers have clear benefits: It avoids the environmental costs of manufacturing and disposing of single-use plastic packaging and reduces littering . . . but the materials that replace single-use plastics also have life cycle impacts," she says. "Glass and metal products are heavier, thus requiring more fuel to transport and both are emissions and resource-intensive to manufacture and cotton scores poorly for waste generation and high energy, water and land use these products have to be used thousands and thousands of times to even gain the environmental benefit."

Engagement across industries

In its Roadmap to 2030 report, ReFED, a national nonprofit working to eliminate food waste, noted that grocers connect all points along the supply chain from manufacturers to consumers and can exert that influence to drive change but cannot address single-use plastic waste alone.

"The onus does not solely rest on any one industry," says Meidl. "Every party along the value chain has a responsibility."

Meidl would like to see supermarkets partner with the downstream recycling industry to establish collection sites for post-consumer plastic bags and product wraps that can be recycled. Grocers could also work with plastic producers, brands and waste management companies to phase out packaging.

Legislation is also essential. Some states have enacted laws aimed at reducing single-use plastic pollution: California, Maine, Oregon and Vermont are among eight states that have banned single-use plastic bags and cities like Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington D.C. have also prohibited plastic straws.

More recently, a coalition of 550 conservation groups, including Greenpeace, Beyond Plastics, Surfrider Foundation and the Center for International Environmental Law, released a Presidential Plastics Action Plan to encourage President Biden to take federal action to address plastic pollution.

"The government has to hold retailers and manufacturers accountable for their plastic waste," adds Hocevar. "[With the new administration] it's easier to imagine meaningful action coming out of Congress."

In the meantime, supermarkets have enormous power to address waste from single-use plastics and Hocevar points to a Greenpeace UK report, Unpacked, which offers a roadmap for grocers looking to cut plastic waste that includes removing "pointless packaging" like apples sold in clamshell containers, adding refill stations for beverages like soda and milk and adding more bulk bins and package-free groceries. He also hopes that calling out their efforts through vehicles like the Supermarket Plastics Ranking could move the needle.

"The retail sector is competitive and customers will use these tools to decide where to shop," he says. "Retailers often default to the excuse, 'We're giving customers what they want,' but a lot of us want better than what we're being offered."

When Greenpeace USA started the Supermarket Seafood Sustainability Scorecard in 2008, all 20 supermarkets received failing scores. A decade later, the same supermarkets achieved passing scores.

"Companies acknowledged the problem and made quick progress the whole sector came a long way in 10 years," Hocevar adds. "Plastic is a lot less complicated than seafood . . . and the culture can change quickly if there is a commitment to tackling the problem."

Sainsbury’s to close its meat, fish and pizza service counters to free up staff

Sainsbury’s is closing its cafes as well as meat, fish and pizza service counters to free up its staff and delivery network for essentials as supermarkets struggle with unprecedented demand during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to customers, Mike Coupe, chief executive of the UK’s second largest supermarket chain, said the counters would close on Thursday. From Wednesday, Sainsbury’s will also be restricting shoppers to buying a maximum of three items of any grocery product and two packets of popular items such as toilet paper, soap and UHT milk. Previously Sainsbury’s had limited customers to five items of the most popular products.

Coupe said: “We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger number of customers.”

Sainsbury’s tighter restrictions are expected to be followed by other supermarket chains as many shelves lie empty across the UK. Over the weekend, shortages extended beyond toilet roll, canned food and pasta to fresh meat, flour, frozen vegetables, eggs, sugar and teabags.

Aldi has introduced a four items per shopper limit on all products, and Tesco cut its limit from five to two items over the weekend on products including toilet roll, long-life milk, pasta and tissues.

Industry insiders said all supermarkets were likely to extend these limits to more products and potentially reduce the maximum number of items each shopper can buy.

The restrictions will not be centrally coordinated by the industry as doing so would breach competition regulations. Insiders said government-backed restrictions would take too long to implement and not be sufficiently responsive.

One industry source said there was not complete agreement on whether restrictions would help. They said: “There can be a problem of people going to shops more often, swapping one big shop for several small shops.”

As they try to keep up with demand, supermarkets are also expected to reduce the range of products on offer, with options such as wholemeal organic pasta disappearing and potential reductions in options such as single pints of milk instead of two- or four-pint bottles.

Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have also called on hundreds of head office staff to help out in stores as they struggle to tackle queues. About 600 John Lewis and head office staff have been drafted into Waitrose outlets, and Morrisons said 500 head office workers were now working in its distribution centres and stores.

Waitrose is also asking store workers in 40 outlets to recommend friends and family who can help out for about a month.

In a call with the secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, George Eustice, on Tuesday, retail bosses are also understood to have discussed ways to protect elderly and vulnerable shoppers.

Some chains, including Iceland, have already set aside a couple of hours for older and more vulnerable shoppers to use their stores exclusively. Sainsbury’s said it would set aside the first hour of trading in all stores on Thursday this week for the elderly and vulnerable and would be giving priority to online orders from those over 70 and the disabled.

From next week Morrisons is introducing three food parcel options, which can be ordered by phone for home delivery. The Bradford-based chain is recruiting about 2,500 pickers and drivers to meet demand for home delivery via its online store and Amazon.

The grocery industry is preparing for a busy period – which could last months – after the shift towards home working this week, and the government’s advice to avoid restaurants, cafes and bars has also led to a rise in home catering.

In recent days, demand for fresh produce has surged as people shift from takeaway sandwiches or lunch in the staff canteen to eating at home. In usual circumstances, dining out or takeaways make up about a third of what we eat.

Fresh produce companies said there was currently no problem with supplies from Spain, where much of the UK’s fresh salad and vegetables come from at this time of year.

But there have been some delays in deliveries to the UK as drivers are not keen to leave their home countries, while border crossings have taken longer because of restrictions on movement.


Those who work for the NHS have priority access to Morrisons stores between 6-7am, Monday to Saturday, and 9:30am on Sundays, when they can shop during a less busy time of day.

Online orders must be placed ahead of time as delivery times are booking out fast.

As of September, Morrisons has reintroduced its queuing systems. “Due to customer feedback we have taken the decision to reintroduce our queue system and marshals,” the store says. "We would like to continue to make our customers and colleagues feel safe."

Front-of-store hosts are in place to monitor customer numbers, and marshals will help with queues. The company has hired thousands of new members of cleaning staff, and will also be offering more hygiene measures, including cleaning stations outside.

The German supermarket chain has a "crowd-control system" in place, with security guards and designated team members tasked with maintaining social-distancing measures in-store. There's also a traffic light system in place so you can find a quieter time to shop, and staff will keep track of how many customers are in store, so the shop never gets too busy.

“Rest assured we are continuing to work closely with the government during these challenging times to ensure the correct measures are put in place in our stores, for the safety of both our team members and customers,” the company tells shoppers on its website.

Wearing a face mask is required in store at all times, exemptions will apply for customers and members of staff with medical conditions.

The supermarket has added gloves along with tongs in its bakery section, to prevent cross-contamination, and Lidl is pre-bagging items where possible.

Checkout screens are provided for customer and staff safety. There are also trolley and basket-cleaning stations in-store.

Watch the video: England Will Ban Sugary And Sweet Soda And Candy From Checkout Aisles In Grocery Stores, Ban BOGOs (June 2022).


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