Campaign staff were forbidden from advising shoppers to buy less food or to ignore ‘buy one get one free’ (BOGOF) offers because Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco were “extremely sensitive about this subject”. Winning their co-operation for the campaign had been “very difficult”, says an internal briefing.
Environmentalists have accused ministers of “selling out” to big business at the expense of pollution and waste. “You wonder which campaign will be neutered next in the supermarkets' BOGOF deal with the government,” said Dr Richard Dixon, the director of Friends of the Earth Scotland.
The campaign, launched by the environment minister, Richard Lochhead MSP, last October, included TV, radio and newspaper adverts, social media and a travelling supermarket roadshow. The aim was to try and prevent people throwing away up to a fifth of their food, which is reckoned to cost Scotland a massive £1 billion a year.
Over two months, teams were recruited to staff stalls at major branches of Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in Glasgow, Paisley, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and elsewhere. They were equipped with branded bodywarmers, baseball caps and iPads and told to “engage as many people as possible”.
The strapline for the campaign was “shop smarter, waste less, save more.” But according to the official 69-page briefing for staff obtained by the Sunday Herald, they had to play down the central message for fear of upsetting the supermarkets.