GEN GBC 2013 strawberries

Supermarkets are providing 'consistently fair' price promotions on soft fruit, despite Tesco’s recent £300,000 fine for 'misleading' deals on fresh strawberries, according to Berry Gardens’ MD Nick Marston.

Marston insisted that in the two years since the violation, which took place across several Birmingham Tesco stores back in 2011, Trading Standards had clarified its position on promotions. He said that although the Tesco violation was 'unfortunate', it was 'not alone in running those sort of deals.'

He explained: “Using high early season prices to launch a half-price promotion is commonplace and not misleading as that is genuinely the cost – I think the issue is on how long retailers run these promotions.

“Trading Standards has only really clarified this position in the last two years that the length of a half-price deal has to be the same length as a full price deal, and all the major retailers have adhered to this completely.'

Another soft-fruit supplier told FPJ that producers are now adjusting to a culture of trade without half-price deals.

The supplier said: “In 2013 if you go around the stores you will see no half-price deals. This half-price mechanism has pretty much been disbanded.

'Supermarkets have rectified the issue since 2011 as they are now doing two for three or putting the exact price on the pack and if you look at berries now you will see a clear £1 or £2 label, so there is no doubt that every supermarket is abiding by the law on fresh produce promotions.”

Tesco had sold strawberries at £3.99 and then £2.99 for two weeks, while the half-price promotion had lasted for 14 weeks. Responding to the fine, a spokesperson for Tesco, which admitted offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act, said: “We sell over 40,000 products in our stores, with thousands on promotion at any one time, but even one mistake is one too many.

'Since then, to make sure this doesn't happen again we've given colleagues additional training and reminded them of their responsibilities to ensure we always adhere to the guidelines on pricing.'