The UK’s leading supermarkets are plummeting in shopper estimations as media criticism intensifies and consumer concern over their ethical and environmental stances mounts.

Tesco has slumped more than 200 places in the latest Superbrands list of the UK’s top 500 consumer brands, now occupying a lowly 301st spot in the table – down from 70th place last year and a lofty 18th in 2006.

Sainsbury’s dropped 194 places to 232nd on the list, which was based on the views of brand analysts and more than 2,200 UK consumers. 

At 179th, Waitrose was placed highest among the major supermarkets. Asda took 439th place and Morrisons did not feature.

Stephen Cheliotis, chief executive of the Centre for Brand Analysis, which carried out the survey, said media criticism had taken its toll on supermarkets.

“The big four have clearly been an incredible success over the past decade or so and that has led to the traditional British obsession with knocking top people off their pedestal,” he said. 

“There is also an assumption that the major supermarkets are not good on things like organic production, environmental issues and treatment of suppliers.”

Supermarkets and other big retailers had not created an emotional attachment to their customers, he added. “Their advertising is very much price-led, which doesn’t create brand loyalty.”

The news comes after figures from Verdict Research last week showed British shoppers were more willing than ever to switch supermarkets, with almost a third (32.4%) saying they would prefer to shop somewhere else.

Marks & Spencer underlined its enduring appeal with a 17th-placed spot, though the survey was conducted before its recent period of turbulence. 

Internet giant Google topped the list. Other brands in the top 20 included Coca-Cola at 14th, Thorntons at 18th and Cadbury at 19th.