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I've always wondered why Waitrose, a supermarket admirably dedicated to regionalism and diversity, utterly fails on the labelling side, particularly when it comes to its potatoes.

This is a small point, but one that has driven me nuts for ages. Why does Waitrose label its non-organic tatties clearly as Maris Piper, King Edwards, Desiree etc but can only muster "Red" or "White Potatoes" as a description of its organic range. Organic shoppers are many things, but I seriously doubt they are colourblind, so the least helpful thing that could go on the label of an otherwise transparent plastic bag is the colour of the spud therein. I can see they're red, but which variety are they? I (and I would imagine most other shoppers who choose organic) want to know how they cook not what to put them beside in the kitchen for maximum aesthetic impact.

So, this morning, I got on my high retail horse and I brought it up with the fruit & veg manager at the Finchley Road branch. Sensing a great deal of "yeah, yeah, whatever," in his response (although politely and attentively put), I thought I might just give the press office a ring and ask the same question along with some other stuff I needed to find out.

You could have knocked me down with a potato peeling when Peter Cook, the fruit & veg buyer, rang me up a couple of hours later with a full explanation of this labelling anomally.

So the skinny is this: Waitrose, true to its spirit of promoting the little guy, buy so many varieties of organic potato from so many different producers throughout the year that it would cost the company a fortune to print up bags naming all the spuds.

Fair enough, I said, but why not print up a paper shelf label identifying the spuds instead? They do it for mushrooms and apples and all manner of other stuff so why not potatoes, particularly at this time of year when the domestic tatty season is in full swing?

Good idea, said Mr Cook. We're working on our packaging as we speak and will bear in mind your suggestion.

So who knows? Blow off or customer service in action? If, all of a sudden, labels appear in Waitrose identifying organic Kerr's Pinks, Maris Piper or Pentland Hawk, you can send your letters of grateful thanks to me here and I'll forward them to the charming Peter Cook.

I wonder if he's as funny as the other more famous one?

For all those interested in what's what in the land of the spud, here's a link I dug up courtesy of our friends at the foodie supermarket


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 11, 2005 7:23 PM.

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