Tesco wins curry tussle with Sainsbury's

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Tesco and Sainsbury's

Tesco and Sainsbury's have been locked in a duel over chicken korma and cut-price ham. The issue kicked off after Tesco included the products in its Price Promise campaign. Sainsbury's stormed straight to the Advertising Standards Authority, insisting that this was misleading, because the products were fundamentally different.

So what was Sainsbury's arguing about - and why was the fight ultimately fruitless?


The issue

Tesco's Price Promise states that they compare 'big brands, own-label and fresh foods' with equivalent items at Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons. If the products can be bought for less at a rival supermarket, Tesco refunds the difference.

Sainsbury's complaint centred on a subtle difference in the products: it says the meat in the korma and the ham in Sainsbury's is from the UK, whereas Tesco uses meat from 'somewhere in the EU'.

In its response to the complaint, Tesco explained how the price match worked. It said it that when it came to the brands, comparisons were simple. However, for own-brand products, they started with brand hierarchy (matching the Basics range with the Value range for example). Where an exact match was impossible they matched with a product which 'met the same need' - so two fruit roulades were matched, despite the fact that one contained 4% raspberries and 4% blackcurrants and the other contained 7% raspberries.

This is all made clear in the terms and conditions of the scheme.

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We don't care where our meat comes from

They said where there were small differences, they were still matched "provided that difference was not key in a customer's decision making process." Therefore Melton Mowbray pies were only matched with other pies from the same town, because people would care. However, more broadly it said that "for the majority of customers, the product's country of origin would only be a minor factor in a customer's decision-making." It said that this belief was backed up by independent research.

The ASA eventually sided with Tesco . It said: "We agreed with Tesco that provenance was unlikely to be a key factor for these two products, a ready meal (chicken korma curry) and a budget choice food (ham)." It ruled that the advert had clearly explained the basis of the comparison, so it wasn't misleading.

Tesco seems to have won this particular battle. But what do you think? Are Tesco and the ASA right about you? Do you not care where your meat comes from - even after the horsemeat scandal?

Let us know in the comments.

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