Campaigning to curb supermarket power

Further Reading

For more background information on UK supermarkets please see the following reports:

From field to fork: The value of England's local food webs” 
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), June 2012
This report shows that local food offers a great opportunity to support vibrant town centres and the countryside but that the role of local food is being undermined by the dominance of superstores, supermarkets and multiple retailers. CPRE said the report presents a "fundamental challenge" to superstores and the damage they are doing to local food webs.

Supermarket Sweep
Tescopoly Alliance, March 2011
This short briefing looks at recent examples of how supermarket manipulate the planning system. The briefing follows the earlier Friends of the Earth reports "Calling the Shots" and "Shopping the Bullies".

A Strange Case -Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations
Human Rights Watch, September 2010
Tesco is a case study in this 130-page report which details ways in which some European multinational firms have carried out aggressive campaigns to keep workers in the United States from organizing and bargaining, violating international standards and, often, US labor laws. For the Tesco case study please see pages 77-94.

Supermarket local sourcing initiatives: Moving us further away from a sustainable, local food economy.
Corporate Watch, September 2010
Our food system is controlled by a handful of multinational corporations. The supply of food is a global business. However, a more localised, food system still exists. There are real benefits to a true local food economy. However, supermarkets see local food as an 'expanding market' to be exploited. This report examines what supermarkets really mean by 'local' food and whether the 'local' products on supermarket shelves signify a real change in the food supply chain or simply a shift to ripping off local producers as well as distant ones. Read the report here.

Cornered Shops: London's small shops and the planning system
London Assembly, 27th July 2010
Cornered Shops highlights the importance of local shops to communities across the Capital and recommends changes to policies to give councils more ways to protect local shops from big retail developments.

A Bitter Cup
War on Want, July 2010
This report focuses on tea workers in Kenya and India, and shows that although the tea industry is booming and supermarkets are cashing in, workers are harassed, poorly paid and denied trade union rights on tea plantations and in tea packing factories. Supermarkets have invariably failed to use their influence to improve this situation. For more information on the report please see the War on Want website.

Asda: Poverty Guaranteed
ActionAid, July 2010
This new report from ActionAid reveals Asda's lamentable record on paying poverty-level wages to workers in poor countries who make its clothes and is trailing behind its competitors such as M&S and Primark. An internal Asda survey, obtained by ActionAid, shows that even in Bangladesh where Asda is trying to improve  wages, employees in its factories are earning just a quarter of the amount they need to properly feed, clothe and educate their families.

A Review of Recommendations and Remedies to Address Supermarket Buyer Power in the EU
Professor Roger Clarke, June 2010
This report was commissioned by Agribusiness Action Initiatives (AAI) Europe and report author, Professor Roger Clarke, reviews existing Member State legislation and goes on to recommend that DG Competition undertake a sector inquiry into the grocery market and that a new EU-wide supermarket Code of Practice be implemented with an independent enforcer at Member State level, to make relationships between retailers and their suppliers fairer.

Retail Policy and Local Development Frameworks
Friends of the Earth, May 2010
Across the country, local councils are drawing up and revising their Local Development Frameworks (LDFs), planning documents which will shape the way communities develop over years to come. Different councils are at varying stages but you can still influence their development as they are required to be reviewed every year and revised every three years. LDFs have the potential to play a vital role in promoting vibrant, diversified and localised retail development. So if you are interested in supporting your neighbourhood and making sure your council makes the right decisions, read this report!
Tesco's finest tea - produced in far from finest conditions?
IUF, July 2009
In June 2009, an experienced team of IUF researchers investigated living and working conditions on the large Talup plantation in Assam, India which IUF understands to supply tea for Tesco's Finest blends. The plantation management clearly failed to apply even the minimum requirements of the Indian Plantation Labour Act of 1951. Read more here.

Sour Grapes -South African wine workers and British Supermarket Power
War on Want, February 2009
This report is based on reseach by the International Institute for Environment and Development for War on Want and its South African partner, the trade union Sikhula Sonke. It examines the changing forces that impact on the global wine industry and highlights the crucial role that British supermarkets play.

Fashion Victims II: How UK clothing retailers are keeping workers in poverty
War on Want, December 2008
This report comes two years on from War on Want’s original Fashion Victims report, published in December 2006, which found that garment workers struggle to survive on extremely low pay, suffering poor working conditions, arduous hours and a complete lack of trade union representation in the factories. Two years on, this new report shows workers making clothes for Primark, Tesco and Asda are still being exploited, despite promises from companies to improve the lives of their workers.

The Two Faces of Tesco
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, June 2008
This report by the US union UFCW compares how Tesco operates at home in the United Kingdom and how it does business in the U.S.

Rebalancing power: buyer power, commodities and competition policy
Traidcraft and the South Centre, April 2008
This report considers to what extent competition policy can be used as a tool to tackle the effects of buyer power and corporate concentration on vulnerable commodity producers. The report includes analysis of the problems faced by commodity producers, different approaches to competition policy and examples of good practice and finally recommendations and conclusions.

"Shopping the Bullies"
Friends of the Earth, April 2007
This new report examines tactics used by supermarkets to manipulate the planning system and includes a survey of local planning authorities on the implications of the Government’s proposed removal of the ‘need test’.

"Who Pays? How British supermarkets are keeping women workers in poverty"
Action Aid, April 2007
'Who pays?' explores the supply chains that link the products we see on supermarket shelves to the people in developing countries who produce them. The report looks in detail at the cases of some of the poorest workers in supermarket supply chains in Costa Rica, India and Bangladesh and shows how supermarket pressure means that they are being denied even their most basic rights.

Fashion victims
War on Want, December 2006
This report reveals the true cost of cheap clothes at Tesco, Asda and Primark, based on research among employees at six Bangladeshi factories in the capital Dhaka which employ over 5,000 workers, mainly women, making clothes for the three bargain retailers

Sweet, healthy and juicy... so why are pineapples leaving a bitter taste?
Observer Food Monthly, November 2006
Joanna Blythman's article for the Observer Food Monthly magazine reports on the costs of Costa Rica's pineapple harvest on workers' health.

The case for breaking up Wal-Mart
Barry C Lynn, Harper's Magazine, July 2006
Wal-Mart's massive growth has begun to disrupt America's entire retail economy, forcing companies large and small to adapt to its ruthless practices if they want to do business. Is it time to bring in the government to break up the mega chain?

The Tesco Takeover 
Friends of the Earth, June 2006
This report sets out the price paid for Tesco's success by farmers, workers, town centres and the environment.

The food industry, diet, physical activity and health: a review of reported commitments and practice of 25 of the world's largest food companies
Tim Lang, Geof Rayner and Elizabeth Kaelin, Centre for Food Policy City University, April 2006
This study analyses and compares the public announcements on health policies and practices of the top food companies, including Tesco and Wal-Mart among the ten food retailers.

High Street Britain: 2015
House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, January 2006
The report, analysing evidence collected during the group's inquiry into the prospects of the small retail sector, reflected the belief that due to the unbalanced trading environment many small shops will have ceased trading by 2015, with people, as consumers and members of communities, standing to be severely disadvantaged.

Calling the shots: how supermarkets get their way in planning decisions
Friends of the Earth, January 2006
This briefing looks at some of the strong-arm tactics used by supermarkets in their attempts to gain planning permission such as supermarkets pressurising councillors, stores constructed beyond planning permission boundaries, supermarket chains hording land banks, and councillors and planners finding it increasingly difficult to voice their concerns or refuse applications from supermarkets because of their overweening power.

Trading Places: the local economic impact of street produce and farmers markets
New Economics Foundation, November 2005
The study examines the contribution made by London's street markets and farmers markets to local economies, local communities, and London as a whole. The study focuses on markets' roles in providing jobs, generating wealth and increasing access to nutritious food.

ASDA Wal-Mart: The Alternative Report
War on Want/ GMB, September 2005
This report looks at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer. It has built its global empire of supermarkets on an image of 'always low prices' which has taken a toll on its employees

The 'Big Food' takeover of British agriculture
Spin-Watch, August 2005

The Tesco Takeover: Tesco's response to our report
Friends of the Earth July 2005
Friends of the Earth's report on Tesco's response to its The Tesco Takeover report from June 2005. Also read replies written by Tescopoly alliance members to responses to email actions on the Tescopoly website by the Department for Trade and Industry and Tesco.

ASDA/Wal-Mart: a corporate profile
Corporate Watch, November 2004
A profile of Asda and owners Wal-Mart, the largest company and arguably 'the most ruthless employer' in the world

Race to the top - evaluation report
International Institute for Environment and Development, November 2004
How are supermarkets performing in their promotion of a greener and fairer food system? Are they sourcing food from wherever it can be produced at the lowest cost with the lowest ethical, environmental, animal welfare and labour standards? Or are they competing on social, environmental and ethical performance - a 'race to the top'?

The Rough Guide to the UK Farming Crisis
Corporate Watch, May 2004
This report argues that the farm income crisis and the environmental failings of farming are due to the same causes - the globalisation and trade liberalisation of the trade in food and the concentration of market power in the hands of a small number of multinational food corporations.

What's Wrong with Supermarkets
Corporate Watch, April 2004
An updated edition of the fully referenced 40 page A5 booklet, which critically analyses the way in which UK
supermarkets shape the production and consumption of food. Also available is a four page briefing based on the same research material which provides a short analysis of the so called 'choice, convenience and value' offered by supermarkets.

Food Inc. Corporate Concentration from farm to consumer
UKFG, October 2003
This report details the impact of buyer power on the food chain, notably detailing its impact on farmers and farm workers, both in the North and the South. It examines the impact of the growing concentration of those companies who trade, process, manufacture and sell agricultural goods and the impact on a range of commodities. The report also points to policies that can ensure more equitable trading relationships and provides options for re-balancing the markets.

The new landless labourers
Felicity Lawrence, The Guardian, May 2003
This article looks at the way our food has become depedent on hidden army of illegal workers, both British and foreign.

Food Webs
Caroline Cranbrook, May 2002
A report for CPRE by Caroline Cranbrook on local food networks in East Suffolk, which demonstrates the importance of local shops and services to rural communities. It reveals the complex web of interconnection between local producers and farmers and local shops.