Saturday morning filling tip supermarket trolleys with goods from South Africa and then leaving them prominently in an aisle with a
felt-tipped sign warning shoppers off
supporting the Republic's regime. True activists would go all the way and have the whole lot
conv eyor-belted. checked-out and loaded up before exclaiming: ‘I can't buy these. They're from South Africa'. Such thick-skinned behaviour could. it was said. bring the whole multinational supermarket system to a grinding halt.
Despite the thrill ofdoing something wicked for a good cause. there is something a little negative about such achievements. For every red-blooded believer who insisted that the workers themselves were begging for a boycott. there was a phlegmatic realist who insisted that refusing to buy South African goods caused more pain to blacks than whites. The recent campaign organised by Scottish War on Want and Campaign (Toffee which provides a positive alternative to buying South African goods is therefore most welcome. ‘We are encouraging people to discriminate in favour of those who have technically broken free from apartheid but need Western support to actually establish separate existences from South Africa'. says Martin Metcyard of(‘ampaign (‘offee Scotland. l'nder the Equal
A friend and I used to spend the odd
produced in the front line states of southern Africa and in Nicaragua. Leaflctting shoppers outside supermarkets has played a part in the campaign. btit its main thrust has been at the supermarkets themselves. To date. the response has been slight. Scotmid were the only large retailer represented at the campaign launch. and even they do not stock l’iqual Exchange goods. ‘From a multiplc‘s point ofvicw. the
I. ... 52 The list 13 — 26 January
Exchange label the campaign is promoting a range of foodstuffs
The List guide to avoiding South African goods and where to find the positive alternatives.
Supermarkets and Chainstores
I Gateway stock a small number of South African products bttt try to offeran alternative w hcrevcr possible, ‘\\'e would stop stocking South African products if people were no longer buying them. That would be a commercial. not a political. decision. We are aw are that it is an issue that a lot ofour customers feel very
I William Low policy is ‘fairly categorical‘, Wherev cr possible they will stock goods from other countries. but reserv e the right tostock South African goods when no alternative is av ailablc. Such goods represent a ‘tiny proportion ofstock'. I Littlewoods do not suit-k- South African goods. Their official policy slales that they do not operate a boycott on any country Their decision not to stock goods is made ‘only on commercial grounds relating to the current reliability of the source'. I Marks and Spencersay tliatQIi’} of'their stock comes from the l'ls' . but that a very small proportion of goods usually fresh fruit and
\ cgctables comes from South Africa. As far as possible. they alsootfcr alternative goods from other countries.
I Safeway have no policy as such on South African goods. Their aim is to offer 'the \y idest possible assortment of goods from the greatest number of available sources.' Whilst stocking South African goods. Safeway ensure that there is always ‘an
( Equal Exchange ) supply is very bitty. the source is unreliable.
alternatively sourced product‘ av ailablc.
I Savacentre say it would make their operation v cry
' difficult if they were to
boycott all the countries and products they are asked to. ‘()ur duty as retailers is to offer choice. At certain times of y eai we offer certain South African products'. Their spokesman emphasised their concern about the regime in South Africa and that the company
hay e made their concern known to their suppliers there.
I Scotmid (and the rest of the co-opeiativcs) opcratc a ban on all South African goods. Alternative sources of citrus fruits become a problem at certain times of year and on occasion individual co-ops hay e approached their board of directors to ask it they can take South African goods for a limited period. How cv er. the Izdinburgh l-ood Trades ()fficc r said that so far they had stuck tothcir policy despite the lack of alternatives.
I Awake Arise 133
continuity and distribution are unreliable: it would cause us problems'. says Terry Blood. Scotmid's Food Trades Officer. The (‘o-operative Society's complete ban on South African produce puts them firmly in the market for new alternatives during the times of year when only southern Africa can supply certain types of fruit. but until they are convinced of the reliability of the supply. they are not buying.
supplier. ‘Pcople out there are waiting for us to prove that there is a reliable market for their cxports'. says Martin Meteyard. He is optimistic. Much [Equal [Exchange importing is done through the Netherlands whose alternative trading network has been operating for over ten years. with permanent reps in Xylozambiquc. Zimbabwe and Nicaragua. ‘lt is a very uphill task‘. he admits. but problems with supply i have gradually been ironed out and Zimbabwe. Zambia and Tanzania offer untapped potential. Lack of capital is a bigger stumbling-block. i ‘Wc‘d love to have the technology to produce orange juice. but producing the concentrate (which is how most orange juice arrives in this country) needs a high degree of capital investment‘. Moreover. poor communications worsened by attacks from SA-backed terrorists. mean that many front liiie states have had to export their citrus crop through SA ports.
The message coming through loud and clear from all the big supermarkets is ‘if the customer wants it we‘ll stock it‘. Safeway cited the example of tartrazine in orange juice. Letters from ‘genuine Safeways customers' expressing concern at the additive‘s effect on hyperactive children persuaded Safeways to remove it from their own-label juice. Now. said the Safeway spokesman. you‘ll be pushed to find tartrazine in any orange juice: 'customer demand
The campaign has not only to convince the buyer but also the
Douglas Street 3M 2984. Any political stance is avoided: the emphasis is firmly on personal health and well-being.
I Bezaleel not (ircat Western Road 334 8334. Actively non South African. they stock (‘ampaign ( ‘offee.
I Grassroots 49s ( ircat Western Road 334 IS“. No South African or (‘hilean goods are stocked. l'qual lixcharigc goods are offered
vv heriey er possible and they also stock ‘.\'()\\” goods. a relatively new label representing underdeveloped countries
I Green City Wholetoods 23 l'leming Street 554 "MR. (irccn ( 'ity' arc the Scottish wholesalers for
liqual lzxchangc products.
If you persuade your local shop to stock the goods. they can get them here.
I Health Foods 73 St Vincent Street Ill 7&6. No South African products stocked.
I Roots And Fruits 457 (ircat Western Road 334 .‘iti3li. No policy on stocking South African goods. but all fruit and vegetables are clearly marked with country of origin. offeringindividual
freedom of choice.
I Campaign Coffee :9
Nicolson Square (so? (NUS
Mail ordcr('artipaign (‘offee
I Hendersons Farm Shop 9: Hanover Street 335 (169-1. No policy on South African goods. The staff appear to be in favour of a boycott. but some South African produce does appear.
I Natures Gate 83 ( ‘lcrk Street (v68 2(i(i7..'l'he owner tries tocnsurc that no South African (or Israeli) goods are on sale. llc stocks honey s. coffee. tea and tahini from "alternative" sources like Zimbabwe. .\lo/ambiquc and Nicaragua. and believes that health food shops should cater for the sector of society which has principles about such things.
I One World Shop St Johns Church. Princes Street 32‘) 4541. A range ofteas. coffees. tahini. peanut butter. dried fruit and nuts. The Traidcraft products are manufactured by community groups to bypass the large
does dictate'. (Julie .‘ylorricci
organisations which exploit agricultural workers They alsostoek
liqual lzxchange products.
I OXFAM Shops in Iidinburgh arid ( ilasgovy. Teas front lndia . coffees from Tan/atria and Nicaragua. lit a/il nuts and Nicaraguan honey. ()xfam'l'rading buy from small producers and local cry-operatives to support them while they establish other customers.
I Real Foods 3’ Broughton Street 557
191 l ; S Brougham Street 328 lfiSl. No South African produce here. and they try never to btiy from a company w lto won‘t tell them vv here their goods come from. ‘I hey did stock ('ampaign ('offcc. but found the mark-up unrealistically low. They notice that as many customers are against the boycott as for it.
I Roots Wholeioodsmi New ington Road («its 2888. "The owners don't worry about it'. South Africa is not an issue lierc. and there are 'a minimal number' of South African products in stock. The juices with the notoriotis 'produce of ntore than one country ‘ labels are not checked up on.