One of the big highlights of being back in the UK is the competitive nature of the supermarkets and the vast choice and quality of food!
Our first visit to a supermarket was Tescos. A giant of a supermarket chain and reportedly the 3rd largest retailer in the world (profits at 2.2BNpds), approximately 27% of the UK market share for supermarkets. Not only a giant in corporate size but by location too. You can only imagine how children’s eyes lit up as we entered through the sliding doors.
While we cant really complain with the choice and availability of good food in the US, there is just something different about the supermarket experience in the UK. Perhaps its the efforts in the retail environment, or the breadth of choice across all the departments or quality of the food?
Who knows but we went wild….
By the end of the trip – which was only for school uniforms (yes supermarkets in the UK sell clothes too!), the trolley was brimming with sweet treats and nostalgic items from my childhood – Ribena, fruit malt loaf and Cadbury fudge bars to name a few!
A down side to the supermarket extravaganzas on offer is the over sell of sweet items. Since being in the UK, Jamie Oliver has launched his sugar/ obesity campaign. The US has always had a bad rap of being a nation of donut lovers and obesity with the UK even jumping on the bandwagon. Whereas, in reality, and as an outsider looking back into the UK, I would argue the UK has a greater problem.
Supermarket experience highlights this greatly. US supermarkets (that I am used to), are clearly laid out with a place for everything. Bakery, deli, cookies, dairy etc.
UK supermarkets, while there is a place for everything, in EVERY place, you can also buy something sweet! EVERY aisle has some sort of sweet offer…just in case you missed it in the aisle you were last in.
Our first visit to the shops, this was fun. 5 months in, this seems wrong. Massive discipline is needed to get through a store to not load the trolley with sweets and junk…..and they are all so good!
Another disturbing sight in the supermarkets is the labeling of the aisles….Children’s drinks and Children’s cereals are the worst. Targeted foods and drinks specifically for children. Sugar laden and not a sign of goodness in sight. Talk about making it difficult for a parent to make the healthier choice when the kids only want to shop from their sections! While Jamie Oliver may have a sugar fight on his hands, I am not convinced, taxing soft drinks is the only way to go…start at the ground level and change supermarkets/culture in selling!
While the UK has a very sweet tooth, the prevalence of chocolate everywhere could be curbed. As a child, chocolate was a treat. My kids came home from school and made the statement that every child has some form of chocolate in the their lunchbox every day! How times have changed. The raisins just weren’t going to cut it here.
As noted, we are 5 months in. I have become more savvy in my weekly shopping. Knowing not to fall into the sweet trap at every turn and preferably not taking the kids with me.
While i wont miss the sugar when we leave, I will certainly miss the outstanding quality and choices of all else.
If we were excited after our first trip to Tesco’s, you can only imagine how we were when we first ventured into Waitrose…..