Tesco to remove Irish food section in more than 200 UK stores
Northern Ireland stores and products unaffected
Tesco is to remove its Irish food section in over 200 UK stores this Summer.
The supermarket giant currently stocks 58 Irish products in its stores, including Barry’s Tea, Tayto crisps, Boland’s biscuits and Irish versions of Cadbury’s chocolate.
But Tesco has begun phasing out the section from 202 stores, leaving almost empty shelves in some branches.
A spokesman for the company said no Northern Ireland stores or products were affected by the move.
Irish sections were rolled out by the supermarket in 2011 and at their peak they featured around 160 products.
Now the supermarket’s Irish products are also said to be disappearing from its online platform tesco.com.
A spokeswoman told the Irish Times that from next month, the most popular of the products will be shelved with their food equivalents in the main body of the shop.
This comes after a review of the products in the last year, a spokeswoman said.
“We are increasing the amount of stock of the popular products that were in the ‘World Food’ aisles. They will now be in the main estate of our products,” she said.
“Say for instance, there was a type of porridge oats that traditionally was in the Irish world food aisles – which was only in certain stores and whether we had space – they are now going to our main range so they will sit beside our porridge oats.”
But Eddie O’Kane, of O’Kane Irish Foods, which supplies Tesco and other major supermarkets with Irish food products, told the UK-based The Irish Post he could not understand the decision.
“We certainly see it as a strange development,” he said.
“The World Foods category has been growing rapidly over the past number of years, in contrast to the overall supermarket trend which has been, at best, very flat.
“Tesco had become a destination store for thousands of Irish consumers in the UK who had been previously missing their favourite food products.”
He added: “I believe they intend to keep the top 10 or so sellers, but taking out 49 products leaves choice drastically reduced and it’s doubtful if a credible shopping experience for the Irish customer will remain.”
Mr O’Kane claimed that in contrast Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Asda “all continue to expand their Irish offer”.