There’s been quite some furore on social media regarding product-labelling in supermarkets geared, seemingly, to play well with a Brexit-supporting customer. The trend for union-flag-badging of some groceries to denote them as 100 per cent British has encompassed such items as bananas (!) and tomatoes (that were also specified as being from Spain in the small print).
The Morrison’s chicken story blew up over the last 24 hours. As it happens, Morrison’s have dropped the reference to ‘non-EU salt and pepper‘ and appear to have realised that it was an error of judgement (although they do have form in this area…); but the revealing and sad aspect to this story is that, as with so many of these incidents, reaction on social media has highlighted the divisions that Brexit appears to have provoked and cemented in the UK.
A ‘fun fact’ which gives an added twist to this tale is that Morrison’s is not even a UK company. It was bought by US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice last year. The buyers originally intended to set up a shell company in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying tax on profits generated in the UK. Had they done so, they would not have been unique in the sector. Asda’s parent company, owned by the billionaire Issa Brothers, is based in Jersey for tax reasons.
One of the many negative consequences of Brexit is that the diminished prospects and weakened share prices of some of our famous names mean that they are more likely than ever to be hoovered up by foreign buyers, who are also able to take advantage of sterling weakness. The government sometimes bills this as foreign or inward investment. It’s not. It’s a process of extracting assets, potential tax revenue and job-generating businesses from the UK so that profits go elsewhere. At its extremes it is vulture capitalism, stripping the last meat off the bones of a business and then flogging off the carcass.
But here, finally, is the letter. Maybe the writer did not intend for us to publish the preamble, but it’s so nice to get praise that we have shamelessly left it in!
First of all, continued congrats and support for all the wonderful work you are doing – bringing a bit of light into a country that is getting dimmer with every year under the numerous Tory governments since 2010.
I felt it an absolute must to complain to Morrisons regarding their racist chicken, and my friends from Dorset for Europe urged me to send the text to you (below).
Wishing you a great evening, keep fighting the good fight – it means a lot to a lot of us.
I am absolutely disgusted with the labelling of your Salt & Pepper Chicken Crown “Made from British Chicken and NON-EU SALT & PEPPER”. In a land riddled with division between Leavers & Remainers, Vaxxers & Antivaxxers, Climate Warriors & Climate Deniers, all that Morrison is doing is pouring petrol onto the fire.
What are you coming up with next? Orange juice free of Israeli oranges? South African wines, only from white vintners? I have spent a lot of money in your supermarkets in the past, but I do not condone antagonistic racism.
Shame on you, Morrisons!
Gérard Fabrice Guminski
European Citizen and former Morrisons’ customer