Online supermarkets stand accused of delivering groceries with a short shelf life, according to a new survey by Which?

The supermarkets have reacted angrily to the research, claiming that their staff are  told to pick the freshest items available for internet customers.

The BBC reports that researchers from the consumer group bought 10 items online and in store from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose. 

According to Which?:

"Online grocery shopping might save you from traipsing around a busy supermarket, but you may have to eat your food sooner than if you shop in the store."

The supermarkets are not impressed with the results of the survey, saying that the sample is far too small to draw any conclusions from.

According to Asda’s Dominic Burch:

"We think the research by Which? into use by dates is seriously flawed. They only shopped once in each store and once online, and even then the difference they found was marginal.”

"It's daft to think that every online retailer in the land is deliberately trying to give their online customers a worse deal than those who shop in store,"

Which? defended the survey though, saying it was only meant to produce a snapshot, and that the results back up anecdotal evidence from grocery shoppers. 

A previous Which? report from March this year found about 60% of Asda and Sainsbury's shoppers thought online groceries were not as fresh as those bought offline.

Graham Charlton

Published 22 November, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)


Francois Charcosset, Online Director at Orange

Fully support this "anecdoctal" survey.
Various purchase experience from Tesco showed a shorter product lifespan.
Retail shop take a great deal of effort when resplenishing, to put the freshest products at the back of the shelves. That is a policy!
Web pickers just take the first product from the shelf instead of searching the freshest at the back of the pile like a "normal" consumer would do in store.

over 10 years ago


Kevan Broderick

I agree - I buy groceries online every two weeks and a lot of the time we have 2-3 days to eat the produce we order for 6 people - there are only so many meals you can plan in that time
you can't freeze salad and my freezer is already full of the last orders soon to be out of date bread

over 10 years ago


Peter McCormick

I agree also - the last three online grocery orders I've received from Asda have all contained items that had to be used by the next day with the majority of other items having to be used with 2-3 days. Not exactly a one off happening is it? It's really insulting of these spokesmen to patronise us (and Which?) by trotting out their usual excuse that the surevy is unrepresentative). Seems representative enough to me. I don't know anybody who shops for groceries online who hasn't had a problem with short dates.

over 10 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.