Sainsbury challenges Tesco on British ham

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a claim from Sainsbury’s that the way Tesco operates its “Price Promise” is at odds with the competing retailer’s marketing pushing an ethical image and fresh food credentials. The move has created a public disagreement between the two supermarket giants that’s put the provenance of their ham under the spotight.

“There’s a basic contradiction between this advertising and the way they’re operating their “Price Promise”,” Sainsbury’s group commercial director, Mike Coupe, said. “We made a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about this. 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.

“In its “Price Promise”, Tesco compares the price of Sainsbury’s basics Ham with Tesco Everyday Value Ham,” Mr Coupe added. “Well, they’re priced the same, but our pork is British and Tesco’s is sourced from somewhere in the EU.

“They’re not the same product. The idea that they are is really rather odd – not least since Tesco boss Philip Clarke recently told the National Farmers’ Union “customers say they are concerned about the provenance of their meat, and that they want to buy British.”

Sainsbury’s has now produced advertising highlighting what it sees as the contradiction in Tesco’s marketing messages.

The ASA said that while it acknowledged there would be differences in animal welfare and country of origin for the ingredients, it was 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.

“Tesco recently said it wants to “make what matters better, together”,” Mr Coupe said. “Customers might be forgiven for thinking it could start with a bit more openness in its “Price Promise,” making clear that its starting point is that ethical sourcing and provenance are not “key” to customers.”

The marketing director for Tesco in the UK, David Wood, said the ASA’s verdict vindicated the company’s decision to go the extra mile for customers and offer a price-matching scheme based on a full basket of shopping.

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