Ocado joins supermarkets responding to call for ‘Buy British’ online option

Two hands pointing at a laptop screen

Ocado has joined Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Morrisons as the fourth retailer to respond to the call for supermarkets to back the nation’s farmers by adding ‘buy British’ tabs to their websites.

Ocado Retail – the world’s largest dedicated online supermarket – has launched a new Best of British aisle offering more than 800 British products.

The online supermarket says 87% of its customers consider it important to support British farmers with searches for ‘British produce’ on its website up 77% year-on-year.

The move follows an open letter written by Conservative MP Dr Luke Evans to the chief executives of eight major supermarkets asking for a filter which would direct shoppers to homegrown food to help boost the economy and cut the UK’s carbon footprint.

The letter was was co-signed by 125 cross-party MPs, and echoed a long-standing NFU ask dating back to 2016.

Amit Chitnis, Chief Commercial Officer at Ocado Retail, said: “Our Best of British aisle comes in response to rising demand from our customers for more homegrown produce.

“Where we can, we will always try to source locally as our first choice whenever possible. So, we’re proud to have gathered a range of over 800 quality products that are British all year round in an easy-to-shop aisle on site spanning fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy.”

‘Simple but effective change’

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said he was “delighted” to see supermarkets getting behind Dr Evans’ campaign.

“We know from our own research that the public wants to buy more British food,” he added.

“This simple but effective change will enable Ocado shoppers to do just that, enjoy some of the best produce out there and support our farmers whilst they shop.”

We know from our own research that the public wants to buy more British food.”

NFU President Tom Bradshaw

Dr Evans said Ocado has been “proactive” by making it easier for shoppers to buy homegrown produce.

He said: “Not only is this good for our food security but it’s good for the environment as Ocado’s customers can cut down on unnecessary food miles.

“I’m pleased supermarkets like Ocado have made this meaningful change and look forwarding to seeing others follow their lead.”

Other supermarkets who have taken up the call to back Britain’s farmers include:

Show your support

Following repeated calls from the NFU and more than 27,000 members of the public, the former Defra Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey announced her support on Back British Farming Day for signposting customers to ‘buy British’ when they shop online.

The campaign featured in the NFU’s British Food: Leading the Way report in 2021.

The Conservative Environment Network has also backed the ‘Buy British’ button in their farming manifesto and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also lent his support to the campaign and called for industry-led action: “We will continue to encourage all retailers to do all they can to showcase the incredible food produced right here, in the United Kingdom.”

If you agree this is a good idea, add your name to show all supermarkets that shoppers want the option to buy British food online.

Add your name now

A ‘small change’ to back the nation’s farmers

Open letter signatories to Dr Evans’ letter included former Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, Climate Minister Graham Stuart and members of the Commons’ EFRA Committee.

The letter was signed by representatives from all the main political parties in England and Wales. It said that the “small change” would give “customers greater autonomy over their food choices” and could boost seasonal eating.

Read the letter in full.

It is often tricky to determine what products are produced in the UK and this simple change would help shoppers do that."

Former NFU President Minette Batters

Former NFU President Minette Batters said “it’s great to see MPs and their constituents getting behind the idea of a ‘buy British tab’ online”.

“We know from our own independent survey that 86% of the public want to buy more British food, but it is often tricky to determine what products are produced in the UK and this simple change would help shoppers do that.”

Online food labelling – the story so far

March 2024

Ocado Retail launches Best of British aisle

Ocado's new aisle showcases more than 800 British products including fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy products.

Amit Chitnis, Chief Commercial Officer at Ocado Retail, said: “Our Best of British aisle comes in response to rising demand from our customers for more homegrown produce.

“Where we can, we will always try to source locally as our first choice whenever possible. So, we’re proud to have gathered a range of over 800 quality products that are British all year round in an easy-to-shop aisle on site spanning fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy.”

February 2024

Sainsbury's reveals 'Best of British' page

Sainsbury's new page spotlights more than 450 100% British sourced grocery products and also provides a range of recipes using British products.

Simon Roberts, Chief Executive Officer at Sainsbury’s, said: “Many of our customers want to support British suppliers and make more conscious choices when doing their food shop, and our new Buy British webpage helps them to do just that through a curation of over 450 quality, 100% locally sourced products.

“We recognise the pressures that British farmers are facing and the importance of supporting them to maintain a resilient UK food system for the long term. Our relationships with farmers and suppliers are incredibly important to us and we remain committed to sourcing British as much as we can, now and in the future.”

January 2024

Aldi launches 'Best of British' online section

Aldi Chief Executive Giles Hurley wrote to Dr Luke Evans MP to confirm the implementation of “a standalone ‘Best of British’ category on our website to showcase our incredible British products”.

December 2023

First supermarket responds to the call for a 'Buy British' section

Morrisons are the first supermarket to implement the ‘Buy British’ section online in response to Dr Evans’ open letter.

Morrisons Chief Executive Rami Baitiéh said: “As a longstanding supporter of British farming, we are delighted to make this change to our website and hope that it leads to more British products in our customers’ baskets.”

September 2023

Government endorses Buy British option

At the NFU's Back British Farming day reception, Thérèse Coffey announced support for a ‘buy British button’ for online supermarket shopping.

The news comes as more than 27,000 members of the public add their names to the NFU's call asking whether it's a good idea to have a 'Buy British' button on supermarket online shopping sites.

June 2023

Dr Luke Evans MP takes the lead

The NFU briefed Dr Luke Evans about online labelling. The campaign has since gathered more than 120 signatories. 

September 2021

NFU launches British Food: Leading the Way report

In our British Food: Leading the Way report NFU President Minette Batters called for “an improved way for customers to choose the origin of product when shopping online” – such as a 'Buy British' button or filter for online food purchases.

During February 2022, we also launched our British Farming: A Blueprint for the Future report where we called on the government to “support for an improved way for customers to choose the origin of product when shopping online – such as a “Buy British” button or filter for online food purchases”.

June 2021

MPs are briefed

The NFU briefed MPs on online shopping and labelling and asked for the same level of origin labelling on products online as can be found in-store.

April 2017

YouGov survey reveals public support for more labelling information online

The NFU commissioned a survey by YouGov that revealed 81% of UK adults think that online food retailers should provide the same amount of information about the product’s country of origin on the website as there is on the food packaging in store.

Other key findings include:

  • Around 64% said they would find it helpful to have the option to view British online produce when sopping online
  • Most consider the 'Country of Origin' labelling information to be clear on certain products – namely milk, cheese and eggs – but find it less clear when displayed for processed products
  • 64% said they look out for British produce when shopping
March 2017

Buy British filter debated in Westminster

There was a Westminster hall debate on ‘Food labelling’ where Rebecca Pow echoed our asks to Defra Minister George Eustice: “Could consideration be given to a button to press when doing an online shop to enable people to choose from just British produce?"

George Eustice responded: “We are discussing that with the National Farmers Union.”

Read more on Mr Eustice's response in The Telegraph.

February 2017

MPs kick off discussions

The NFU briefed MPs on online labelling and made recommendations including a filter which would give online customers the ability to select British through a button.

2016

The campaign begins

The NFU launches an online labelling campaign to allow shoppers to be able to identify British food more easily when doing their online food shop. 

This page was first published on 22 August 2022. It was updated on 04 March 2024.


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