Press Centre

Asda embarks on next phase of multimillion food quality investment programme

  • Retailer invests further £27m in quality improvements across its fresh food business
  • Market-leading quality specifications introduced across all fresh meat and produce
  • Threefold increase in number of quality inspectors employed throughout supply chain
  • As a result, sales of key meat and fish lines have already increased significantly
  • Roll out complete of 6,500 ‘Chosen by you’ products following £100m relaunch
  • Asda’s mid tier brand now fastest growing own label range in UK (source: Kantar)
  • More than 325,000 independent blind taste tests completed by 53,000 representative UK shoppers in last 12 months

Asda announced today (Tuesday 17th May 2011) it was embarking on the next phase of its comprehensive quality investment programme after successfully completing the biggest-ever own label relaunch in UK retailing history.

As part of Asda’s strategy to deliver both value and quality to its customers, the supermarket is now investing a further £27m in enhancing quality across its fresh food business.

There are now three times as many quality assurance inspectors operating in Asda’s depots and supplier farms compared to a year ago, enabling the retailer to significantly increase the frequency of quality control checks in its supply chain.

Asda has also introduced market-leading butchery specifications on all its fresh meat, leading to improvements in taste, tenderness and succulence of key products like sirloin and rump steaks, pork loins and legs of lamb.

In addition, over the last 12 months the retailer has step changed the quality of its fresh produce business following the acquisition of International Produce Limited (IPL) by Walmart.

As a result Asda, through IPL, now has a team of more than 1,000 colleagues based in the UK and countries across the world from which it sources its produce. IPL has also recently extended its remit to Asda’s wine supply.

Andy Clarke, Asda President and CEO, said: "Having successfully completed the rollout of Chosen by you we are now embarking on the next phase of our quality programme. We are investing £27m introducing market-leading quality specifications across all of our fresh meat and produce.

“And through a combination of significantly more quality controls on our farms and in our depots, and by removing unnecessary middlemen along the way, we’ve been able to enhance the quality of our fresh food and keep prices low for customers.”

As part of its commitment to sustainability, Asda now also insists that all the cod and haddock sold on its fish counters and in pre pack, is line caught.

Not only is line caught fishing a more sustainable method as it reduces by-catch and discards, there are also significant quality improvements for customers. Line caught fish is whiter, firmer and ensures a more consistent quality than less sustainable trawler-based methods of fishing.

As a result of the move sales of smoked haddock portions are up by 58 percent, smoked cod fillets are up 43 per cent, smoked haddock loins are up 40 per cent, and undyed smoked haddock fillets are up 34 per cent.

This latest initiative is part of Asda’s ongoing strategy to drive as hard on quality as it continues to do on price. Last year the retailer invested more than £100m revamping its entire core range of Asda brand food. As a result, Chosen by yo is now the fastest growing mid-tier own label brand in the UK (source Kantar).

Chosen by you represents around 80 per cent of Asda’s own label food sales, equivalent to annual sales of between £8-9bn. Since September last year more than 6,500 products have become part of the Chosen by you range on the back of 325,000 independent blind taste tests completed by 53,000 representative UK shoppers in last 12 months.

Asda has also now integrated Facebook into its product testing programme, inviting customers to “Like” products online via

Since launch Asda has seen sales of bakery products rise by 10 per cent, ready meals are up by nearly 29 per cent, and yoghurts have seen a staggering uplift of more than 92 per cent. The retailer also received 17 awards at the Grocer Gold Awards held last week, including seven gold awards and 10 silver.

In February Asda also announced it was extending its push on quality into general merchandise with the introduction of a new premium homeware brand ‘Elegant Living’. The range of bedding, bath, cook and dine products has been jointly sourced with Walmart, enabling Asda to match the quality and style found on the high street, while offering customers prices up to 30 per cent lower.

Elegant Living’s microfibre and goosefeather pillows have proved a hit with customers, as have white bath sheets. A surprise favourite in the range is a marble toilet brush holder.

The range includes 100 per cent Egyptian cotton towels (800 GSM), 100 per cent Egyptian cotton bedding, 18/8 grade stainless steel pans*, and hard anodised aluminium pans with Teflon non-stick bases.

Posted in Press Centre on 17 May 2011