Friday, 20 July 2012

Dear Tesco

Dear Tesco,

I am writing this letter more in vain than in hope.

You opened a huge new superstore near me in a bog in Co. Cavan, not long over a year ago now.  When you opened it was a miracle!  Suddenly we had a shop that supplied dragon fruit, fresh tuna and papparadelle.  It was a miracle - no a mirage - in a bog.

The locals had never seen the like and the "foodies" were in heaven as they had no longer to drive to Dublin to get ingredients.

I was able to tell my sister, resident in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, that I could get her celery seeds so that she could pickle her glut of cucumbers.  Who would have thought?  (or if you are on Facebook, who would "of" thought?)

It was sheer bliss; but like the megastore you opened in Bloomfield in Dun Laoghaire with it's stunning fish display - it was short-lived.  You realised - no profit realised - that Cavan people were; "meat and two veg" and not much else, so the rest of us, could get lost.

The dragon fruit was replaced with swede and parsnip and the tuna with chicken fillet.

The pasta aisle diminished from De Cecchi to Dolmio, from oricchiette to short-cut macaroni.

The spice racks from galangal to cinnamon.

We, foodies were of no importance.  But to be fair we realised that you had profit margins and shareholders to consider. 

However, the final straw was, as far as I am concerned, your decision to stop stocking free range chicken.  We here in Ireland have access to British television though Sky.  We are aware of Jamie Oliver's campaign to try to improve the plight of the intensively-reared chicken.  Some of us actually care that chickens have horrendous lives.  But your care is only "lip service".  The free range chicken in Bailieboro does not sell so instead of making the effort to sell, you take the easy way out and stock the intensive stuff. 

Your staff in Bailieboro are probably the nicest and most helpful in Ireland but they haven't a clue about food.  You don't bother to invest the time to train them. So the friendliest staff have no idea of the hapless lives the chickens lead that they sell on the shelves.  It's no wonder that they look at me like I have ten heads when I ask, "where are the free range chickens"?

I know your answer before I ask - profit margins.

But sometimes principle must come before profit; even in the multi-nationals.  Sometimes it is right to do something even if it does not make a profit.  Sometimes a company has to be reputable.  You are a British multiple trading in Ireland.  You are responsible for the displacement of many local retailers and suppliers.  You have a responsibility, albeit a moral responsibility to consider the welfare of animals you supply as meat.  You have responsibility to your customers, to give them the option to make the right decision. Do you care? Do you heck?

Tesco   Free Range Chicken  Jamie Oliver  Galangal  De Cecci  Dolmio  Celery Seed  Cavan


  1. This is the best post I have seen on a "food" bloggers blog in a long time. They (Tesco) tailor the products stocked according to area, and we are certainly no fools in that regard. What sells in one area might not sell in another. As for "free range" etc., with them, forget it! Profit and margins are what they are about. Supply a niche market is certainly not. Well done, and great post, Maggie.

  2. Thank you Colette another rant - but what the hell - someone has to! Look forward to the day when it makes a damn bit of difference.

  3. I keep telling you to bypass Tesco and vote with your feet, the only chicken they stock (which they claim is Irish) is not, its a good rant by the way,
    Your sister!

  4. I know what you mean. I actually shop in Aldi more now, partly because it is sooo much quicker, and partly because I know they pay the farmers what they say they will pay them, on time and don't try to blackmail them. I recently asked a butcher for Irish chicken breasts - they just don't seem to exist :(

  5. Aldi have very good reputation for paying their suppliers have heard that from a few. When I asked local craft butcher for free range chicken he told me no such thing unless you hit one with your car..... telling really!

  6. Great summary of the good and the very bad aspects of these retailers


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