Chris Rundle: Time for Tesco to clean up their act
You know us. We’re one of Britain’s biggest supermarkets. “Every little helps.” That’s what we say. But we’ve run into a problem. We’ve been caught out selling burgers full of horse meat.
We said we didn’t know what they were made of. Perhaps we should have checked. Eight burgers for a pound? Something must be wrong. Surely.
And it’s got worse. Other products have been found to contain horse meat, too. We don’t make them, so it’s not strictly our fault. But we have been selling them. So ultimately we have to take the blame. And maybe the fines. Big fines.
So we’re getting our repentance in first. We’ve bought space in newspapers. Lots of space. Whole pages. And filled them with advertisements containing lots of words. “Tesco says sorry”, “Tesco turns over new leaf”? That won’t do. That lacks sincerity. Too snappy.
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So we’ve hired creative copywriters. And told them to use lots of words. All chopped up into small sentences. Like this. Because that sounds like we mean what we say. Even though it reads a bit like a children’s book (Janet and John Go To Tesco – 49p down from 99p).
The ads tell people how we are really, really sorry for what’s been going on. And how we are cleaning up our food-supply chain. Things will change. In future if it says beef it will be beef. Not horse. Or donkey. Or kangaroo.
Of course we’re not going to admit to doing anything wrong. Like screwing our suppliers. Like maintaining our profit margins while slashing theirs. Which is how you end up selling horse meat and beef fat burgers. Because that’s the only way you can make burgers if they have to sell eight for a quid.
That’s all changed. We’re going to look after our suppliers. And our customers. People will be able to trust us again. It will be just like the old days. They might even go back to buying ready meals.
We hope so. Because we’ve got to sell a lot more stuff to cover the cost of these ads. They don’t come cheap. Unlike horse meat burgers. Long copy ads they’re called. The kind that used to appear when advertising was first invented. Old-fashioned values, you see. That’s what it’s all about.
Intelligent people will see through it, of course. They will say it’s just another bucket of whitewash. But an expensive one.
But we think it will fool some of our customers. All of the time. Or all of our customers. Some of the time.
Case for badger cull
Few things are more guaranteed to stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood of farmers who will shortly be involved in the badger cull than the latest set of statistics from Defra.
Particularly the warning from David Heath that cattle losses from TB could cost the taxpayer a billion pounds over the next decade if nothing is done.
There are more grim statistics to digest, too: provisional figures show there was a 10 per cent increase in the number of cattle compulsorily slaughtered due to TB last year, making it the third worst year on record.
Some 38,010 were killed, up from 34,688 the previous year. More worrying still, over half were in the west of the country, demonstrating quite what a threat is now posed to the region’s livestock industry.
This despite the more stringent cattle controls that came into force last July and which the pro-badger lobby insists are the answer to the TB problem. In fact the badgerite tendency has been advocating tougher cattle controls for two decades, Labour was naive enough to believe the propaganda and repeatedly applied them, and the only response from TB was to spread.
Never mind. Given their newly-developed skill at skewing, distorting and misquoting statistics we can stand by this week for a press release from the badger-huggers asserting that in fact TB is on the wane, fewer cattle were killed last year than ever before, thus cattle controls are working (demonstrating that TB was all the farmers’ fault) and therefore the culling is unnecessary.
And badgers are, of course, entirely innocent.
Swaling on Exmoor, one of our oldest land management practices, clearing mature heather and gorse plants so that new ones can regenerate