Sainsbury’s sells Israeli oranges, grapefruit, avocados, strawberries, thyme, tarragon, parsley, coriander, rosemary, passion fruit, sharon fruit, ‘Shelly’ mangoes, mejdoul dates, lychees, fresh figs, plums, fruit juice, minneola (tangerines), potatoes (‘Desiree’, ‘Vivaldi’, ‘Rooster’, white, baking, baby, salad), sweet potatoes, peppers (‘Ramiro’), pickled cucumbers, pickled olives, radishes, ‘Splendid’ flowers, ‘Basics’ flowers, ‘Saveur Mediterranean’ hummous, turkey, smoked chicken breast, Rumples party pretzels, Osem croutons, Telma chicken soup mix and soups, feta cheese, Tivall vegetarian food range, ‘Food for Thought’ dips, table wine (red, white, rose & sparkling), Kiddush wine and Yarden wine and Osem foods.
This extensive list includes many products from illegal Israeli settlements, including fresh lemon grass from the West Bank and Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ Pomodorino tomatoes. Sainsbury’s stocks Hadiklaim dates labelled ‘Made in West Bank’ and products from Soda Club, which has an office based in the settlement of Ma’leh Adumin.
Sainsbury’s has said, in correspondence with Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign supporters, that the store is not a political organisation and it does not boycott products from any country. Sainsbury’s does acknowledge, however, that “ethical trading is a growing area of concern for our company and consumers” and that it has an “ethical trading policy.” Whether ethical trading concerns would extend to the sale of goods from an apartheid regime on occupied land, that’s not something the retailer seems interested in answering.
Palestine solidarity campaigners have attended Sainsbury’s PLC shareholders meeting several years running, in an attempt to persuade the company to stop selling Israeli goods and to label its produce more accurately.
Sainsbury’s says it is committed to ‘informative labelling’, despite describing one piece of produce as being from ‘Gaza Strip, Israel’. After the 2007 ITN report about mislabelling of settlement Medjoul dates as ‘Produce of Israel’, Sainsbury’s admitted that it had mislabelled produce and stated that “as from today, all dates from the West Bank will be labelled as coming from the West Bank. We are investigating how this error occurred.”
Meetings have been held between Sainsbury’s management and campaigners and NGOs about the labelling of settlement goods. At a meeting in 2009, James Clark, a ‘public affairs and stakeholder relations spokesperson’, told campaigners that Justin King, CEO of J Sainsbury plc, had written to Hilary Benn, Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), asking him to clarify how retailers should label goods from Israeli settlements. Mr Clark said Sainsbury’s would be revising its labelling policy in the next six months and might consider labelling settlement produce ‘Produce of Israeli Settlement’. Mr Clark was not prepared to listen to arguments that settlements were illegal and argued that the store did not have instructions to this effect from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, despite the fact that this is clearly set out on the FCO website.
Sainsburys have been picketed across the UK by campaigners calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.
J Sainsbury plc
Direct Action Against Israel – Part 2