Apartheid in the Fields: From Occupied Palestine to UK Supermarkets (2020 Update), Part 7.3: Waitrose

Waitrose has been obstinate in its stance on settlement produce and was unresponsive to the 2007 ITN and More 4 reports which led other supermarkets to label their goods more clearly.

While campaigners have repeatedly tried to engage with the supermarket on the issue, the company has refused to enter into any debate and told one customer:

“Whatever our own views may be about Israeli products, we do not think it is right to ask our buyers to base their choice of products on any other criteria than commercial ones of quality and value for money”.[1]

This seems to be a very clear message from Waitrose that economic factors take precedent over ethics when it comes to business dealings.

In 2010 an investigation by War on Want discovered that Waitrose was selling a number of settlement goods – despite the supermarket making statements to the contrary – including three types of halva by the company Achva, all of which were clearly labelled as produced in the Barkan settlement in the West Bank. 2 In 2014, Waitrose claimed that it had stopped selling herbs from Israel’s West Bank settlements. However the store claimed its decision was purely commercial. 3

In 2015, Waitrose came under harsh criticism for displaying a ‘Taste of Israel’ brochure which portrayed East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan as part of Israel. It also listed several Palestinian traditional foods as ‘Israeli’. Ayman Abuawwad, a Palestinian living in London, wrote on the Waitrose website:

“I am a Palestinian from Gaza. How dare Waitrose promote the theft of my Palestinian heritage, my culture, my food and call it Israeli…Shame on you Waitrose for cancelling a whole nation, a whole culture for profit.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority over the brochure.[4]

In 2019, Corporate Occupation photographed Waitrose stocking Israeli own-brand Hadrawi dates and own-brand ‘Duchy’ Medjoul dates. We have previous evidence that Waitrose dates have been supplied by Hadiklaim (see page 36). Some of the proceeds from sales of Waitrose’s ‘Duchy’ products go to the Prince of Wales’ Charitable foundation, meaning that the charity is potentially benefiting from the sale of Israeli settlement produce.[5]

On its website, Waitrose states that the following fresh produce comes from Israel: mangoes, various types of potatoes, fresh figs, avocados, peppers, grapefruit and pomegranates. It also stocks Carmel wine. Carmel winery shamelessly states that its vineyards are located in the Golan Heights and ‘Shomron’, a historical name used by Zionists for the northern West Bank.[6]

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