Research showed that the retailer store Aldi remains the “strongest supporter” of Scottish produce available to consumers, according to NFU Scotland’s ShelfWatch.

Phase 2 of NFU Scotland’s ShelfWatch initiative, which examines the availability of Scottish produce in Scottish stores, has continued to find a mixed picture of support across retailers.

A research firm visited 73 stores across Scotland and they looked at own-brand beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, soft fruit and dairy products on offer in stores. 

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

Since ShelfWatch 1, NFU Scotland has met with stores to discuss the opportunities to sourcing more Scottish products.

These discussions will continue into the annual four-day showcase for Scottish food and farming, the Royal Highland Show, which started yesterday (Thursday, June 20).

The main results from ShelfWatch 2 are:

  • There has been only a ‘modest increase’ in the availability of Scottish own label produce from January;
  • Sainsburys remains the lowest supporter of Scottish own label produce;
  • In terms of retailers’ commitment to British produce, Marks and Spencer came out on top with 85% of products labelled as British or Scottish;
  • On labelling, the assessors picked up on some unclear labelling on bacon involving the mixing of UK and EU produce which will be taken up with retailers. 

NFU Scotland president, Martin Kennedy said the ShelfWatch project is “shining a light” on where Scottish produce is being made available to consumers.

Kennedy said that the project allows the NFU Scotland to understand where Scottish produce is to the “fore” and where it is being “dominated” by produce from elsewhere.

The NFU Scotland president added:

“The second ShelfWatch survey 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. 

“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.”

However, the president raised the concern that some staple products carried “ambiguous and confusing” labelling which highlighted the need for a labelling reform at a UK government level.