Waitrose MD Steven Esom has hit out at rival supermarkets for not selling more effectively the benefits of provenance, traceability and sourcing of food.

In the retailer's 2006 corporate social responsibility report, Esom said that supermarkets had got their priorities wrong.

"Many of our competitors think that if you gave two glasses of water to a consumer, they would simply choose the clearest and assume it was better.

"It seems that companies have been very successful in persuading people to pay less for a stripped down product. In almost every other retail sector, from clothing to cars, customers are willing to pay more for a better product."

However, the report also outlined that Waitrose was struggling in some areas.

Although it is set to meet government targets for 2008 to have all commercial vehicles entering London fitted with a low-emission Euro 3 engine, the 2010 targets restrict engines to greener Euro 4 versions.

"This presents Waitrose with a considerable challenge. Normal vehicle replacement is every six years," the report said

Despite the supermarket's environmental stance, Waitrose also admitted that its carbon emissions, commercial miles driven and volume of waste all rose last year, while its target to increase the proportion of its waste that is recycled by 10% was missed. Instead, it decreased from 49% to 45%.

However, all the measures were mainly taken against figures from between 2001 and 2003, when the retailer was a significantly smaller business.

And as a result of a strict carbon management programme, said the report, emissions had fallen relative to sales, having dropped 20% to 62 tonnes per £1m of sales.

The report also claimed that Waitrose's shops were now typically 20% more energy-efficient than those built ten years ago.

But, although energy efficiency had improved by 10% since 2004, the opening of bigger supermarkets and longer trading hours had resulted in an increase in total energy use.