The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland has released the results of Phase Two of its ShelfWatch initiative, finding that UK discounter Aldi stocked the most Scottish produce.

In Phase Two, an independent research firm visited 73 stores across mainland Scotland, looking primarily at own-brand eggs, vegetables, soft fruit, dairy products (cheese, milk, butter and yoghurt), beef, lamb, pork and chicken.

When compared with the ShelfWatch launch in January, ShelfWatch Phase Two identified that retailer Aldi remained the “strongest supporter of Scottish goods” available to Scottish consumers.

All retailers involved in the survey were given 24 hours’ notice of the audit and have received a copy of the results.

Since Phase One of ShelfWatch, NFU Scotland has met with Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco to discuss the opportunities and barriers to more Scottish sourcing, stating that these discussions would continue at the annual four-day showcase for Scottish food and farming, the Royal Highland Show.

Survey findings

ShelfWatch Phase Two found:

  • In total, across all retailers, there has been only a modest increase in the availability of Scottish own label produce from January
  • In terms of support for Scottish produce, Aldi leads the way for a second time with 45% Scottish, coming top in 12 of 15 categories
  • Co-op improved from fourth to second (27.6%), while Lidl fell from second to third and Morrisons fell from third to fourth (19.2%)
  • Sainsbury’s remained the lowest supporter of Scottish own label produce (9.7%) as Tesco improved from seventh to sixth (13.1%), Asda fell from sixth to seventh (11.5%) and Marks and Spencer remained fifth (18.7%).

NFU Scotland said that there was “strong support” for Scottish produce from the retailers in categories such as eggs and fresh milk, but there were opportunities for some retailers to do more in categories such as pork, lamb and chicken, and for all across the wider dairy sector.

In terms of retailers’ commitment to British produce, M&S came out on top with 85% of products labelled as British or Scottish.

Martin Kennedy, NFU Scotland president.

A modest increase in Scottish produce

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said: “On behalf of farmers and crofters, NFU Scotland is continuing with its ShelfWatch project, shining a light on where and how Scottish produce is being made available to consumers. We want to support our farmers and crofters, to ensure that there is recognition and reward for the outstanding food that they work so hard to produce.

“The first ShelfWatch project in January gave us a useful baseline. It allowed us to understand the differences between product types, where Scottish produce is to the fore and where there is dominance from produce from elsewhere.

“The second of four ShelfWatch surveys to be carried out within the 12 month period has found only a modest increase in the availability of Scottish branded products. This now gives us a solid platform for more detailed discussions with retailers and policy makers which we will now embark in order to try and affect positive change.”

Kennedy continued: “Part of that dialogue will be on fair and transparent labelling. The ability for a staple product like bacon to carry ambiguous and confusing labelling on whether it is of UK or EU origin underlines our previous calls for labelling reform at a UK Government level.

“We know that our primary producers provide fantastic products, to the highest welfare standards. This is something that we are justifiably proud of. We will continue to work hard on behalf of our members to ensure that they are at the forefront of discussions as we seek to secure a fairer share of returns from the marketplace on their behalf.”