Archived press release
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Friends of the Earth will accuse Tesco of behaving like an `Incredible Untamed Beast' at its annual general meeting (AGM) today, Friday 18th June . Campaigners, accompanied by pensioners and farmers, will attend the meeting to question Tesco directors about the way the company is damaging communities, putting local shops out of business, and threatening the livelihoods of many UK farmers.
As UK grocery market leader, with over 27% of the UK market, Tesco is extremely powerful, but a new briefing published by Friends of the Earth, revealed that the supermarket is abusing that position because of weak controls and the lax government attitude to controlling supermarket power. The new briefing contains stories from local traders, overseas suppliers, pensioners and farmers which illustrate how Tesco's abuse of power impacts on people and communities .
Friends of the Earth Food and Farming Campaigner Sandra Bell said:
"Tesco's success has made it immensely powerful - a position that it is clearly abusing by putting small traders out of business and killing off local high streets, bullying suppliers, and damaging the environment through its never ending demand for cheap food. The evidence against Tesco can no longer be ignored. It is time for the Government to regulate and tame this corporate beast."These include:
Shopkeepers in the Norfolk town of Stalham have told Friends of the Earth how Tesco has damaged their business and backtracked on promises made when it moved to the town.
In the nearby market town of Sheringham, traders said a new Tesco store, recently granted planning permission despite strong local opposition, will destroy the town's special appeal to tourists and ruin their livelihoods.
Pensioners in Witney, Oxfordshire are angry about the way Tesco took over stores in the town and threatened to close the post office in the stores, a vital local service. To date, Tesco has been allowed to take over convenience store chains with no investigation or intervention from the competition authorities.
South African suppliers have described the way in which Tesco pushes prices down and makes unreasonable demands for expensive packaging that must be paid for by the supplier. Workers describe how this impacts on them in lack of employment rights and poor conditions including lack of protective clothing.
Farmers describe how Tesco has ignored their pleas for fairer prices and the impacts this has on the environment and rural communities. They say a stricter code of practice is essential.
Friends of the Earth is warning that Tesco's practices are also damaging the environment. Its search for cheap food across the globe clocks up polluting food miles, while requirements for pristine and uniform fruit and vegetables results in the some food going to waste. And Tesco's demand for the cheap palm oil for processed foods is leading to rainforest destruction in south east Asia.
 Tesco Annual General Meeting takes place at 11am on Friday 18th June at the QEII Conference Centre, Westminster.
 Friends of the Earth's briefing is available at: www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/every_little_hurts.pdf (PDF† format)