That’s the key finding of new research carried out for The Grocer by HI Europe which questioned 6,000 people in the UK, France and Germany.
When asked if the big chains had too much power, 41% of British and 67% of French shoppers said yes. German consumers were less worried - with fewer than a third of those agreeing, while almost half disagreed. Only 16% of the French and 34% of the British thought supermarkets did not have too much influence over what they ate.
Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, a vocal critic of the supermarkets in this country, said the figures showed that consumers had a healthy level of scepticism. He said: “It is something the supermarkets need to consider and accept - that we do need to give smaller suppliers and competitors an even chance in the market.”
More than half of French and German shoppers said they had more trust in local independent retailers than supermarkets. In Britain, a third of consumers said they trusted smaller retailers more, but a fifth said they actually had more faith in
the supermarkets. Despite these differing opinions, in all three nations around half of the shoppers said they trusted the food stocked in the supermarket they used, with just one in six disagreeing.
But food writer Felicity Lawrence, author of ‘Not on the Label’, said this statistic raised doubts. “If half of the people trust the food they buy, this still leaves questions about the other half. People want to know more about how food is produced and what goes into it.”
BRC director general Kevin Hawkins was encouraged by the statistics: “It looks as if British consumers have faith in the supermarkets, which just shows what a good deal they get.”
He said the results reflected different shopping experiences in the three countries - with Germany in the grip of a discount culture and France more in touch with its strong agricultural base.
>>p28, European shoppers quizzed on the health debate