The information in the question and answer guide is intended to provide an introduction to J Sainsbury plc, its operating companies and shareholder issues. Click on a question to reveal the answer. These sections are regularly updated.

Last updated: 29 May 2012, 18:00.

Food and health

  • What are you doing to be the best for food and health?

    We believe in offering our customers great tasting, great value food that is also good for their health, helping them improve their and their family's diet.

    We focus our attention on:

    • Making our products healthier, focusing on the most popular items in our customers' baskets so that we have the greatest impact on the nation's health
    • Promoting healthy lifestyles
    • Providing clear and transparent labelling.
  • Are you making an effort to cut down salt?

    We have been reducing salt in our products for over 10 years in a gradual step-by-step approach, so customers do not notice a difference in taste.

    We are fully committed to the 2010 Food Standards Agency (FSA) salt targets, set in 2006, and have already met the FSA targets in over 80% of our own-brand products. In addition, we have exceeded the FSA's targets on our entire range of own brand breakfast cereals, which now contain 40% less salt than before.

  • Are you making an effort to cut down on fat?

    Since January 2007, all our own-brand products have been entirely free from hydrogenated fats. We remain committed to the UK Food Standards Agency's (FSA) Energy and Saturated Fat Intake Programme.

    Dairy products represent one of the major contributors of saturated fat to the UK diet, which is why they remain a key priority for us. Following the successful launch of our 1% fat milk, in June 2008 we launched three new reduced fat Cheddar cheeses, which are up to 38% lower in fat and 34% lower in saturated fat than their standard equivalent products.

  • Are you making an effort to cut down on sugar?

    We are reducing the amount of sugar in our products, wherever we can find a way to do so without compromising on taste and quality.

    Sugary drinks can represent a large source of sugar in the diet of some customers. That's why we have reduced the sugar content of all our squash lines by 10% this year.

    Some of our customers prefer sweeteners to sugar, which is why we provide customers with the choice of products with either sweeteners or sugar. We never mix artificial sweeteners and natural sugars in our soft drinks, so our customers have a quick and clear choice regarding the type of drink they wish to buy.

  • What are you doing to encourage healthier eating?

    We were the first UK retailer to introduce front-of-pack 'Multiple Traffic Light' (MTL) labelling and we have displayed MTLs on almost 5,000 own-brand products. We continue to roll this out across our own-brand products.

    We are committed to helping our customers eat healthily on a budget. A large part of this has been achieved through encouraging customers to switch into our expanded 'basics' range, which offers Sainsbury's quality at affordable prices.

    Our 'Feed Your Family For a Fiver' campaign has also been hugely successful in helping our customers to meet their needs for great tasting, healthy recipe ideas on a budget. Launched in 2008, 'Feed Your Family For a Fiver' recipes feature products that cost no more than five pounds to feed a family of four. The campaign builds the popularity of our standard recipe Tip cards, all of which aim to encourage our customers to try cooking more. These have proven so popular with our customers that in 2008 we printed over 38 million Tip cards, featuring 92 different recipe ideas. 50 percent of these recipes contain one portion of 5-a-day and 25 percent feature healthier recipes (i.e. only green or amber traffic lights).

  • What are you doing to encourage healthier eating for children?

    We were first retailer to put children's Guideline Daily Amounts on the back of packs, in 2006, to help parents understand the recommended nutrient intake for their children.

    In February 2008, following customer research, we took this further still by placing Multiple Traffic Light (MTL) labelling on the front of all appropriate products in our 'Kids' range. These MTLs have been specifically-designed for the nutritional requirements of children. Our 'Kids' range also highlights nutritional benefits of certain products such as calcium, as parents have told us this information is important to them.

  • What is your position on nutritional labelling?

    Debate has concentrated on whether Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) or Multiple Traffic Lights (MTLs) are most useful and easy to read for customers. We believe it is not a question of 'either/or' - we continue to display colour-coded GDA information on the back of packs, yet our research shows that customers find MTLs the easiest 'at a glance' indicator to use on the front of packs.

    We were the first UK retailer to introduce front-of-pack MTL labelling. By 2008, MTLs were displayed on almost 5,000 own-brand products and we remain committed to ensuring all relevant products carry the MTL.

    MTLs also have support from independent experts. At the National Obesity Forum in October 2007, attended by health experts, over 70% preferred MTLs over GDAs to indicate the healthiness of food.

  • What provisions are in place for customers with special dietary needs?

    We work hard to ensure our labelling is clear and concise. To make shopping easier for customers with allergen needs, we summarise the allergens contained in an 'allergy box' on the pack.

    Our 'freefrom' range is specifically designed to make it easy for customers with specific dietary requirements to identify which ingredients have been included and which ingredients the product is free from. There are currently 74 products in the 'freefrom' range, with plans to extend the range in 2008/09.

  • What is Sainsbury’s food safety policy?

    Our commitment to food safety is clear and customers can feel reassured about the extensive controls we put in place to manage safety throughout the supply chain.

    Our product safety management system helps at every stage from product design to point of sale, to ensure that all own-brand products in our stores meet the highest standards of safety. From assessing the safety of products prior to sale through to auditing our suppliers and checking that finished products on our shelves are safe and authentic, our safety management processes are there to assure our customers that we are always trying to exceed their expectations for safe foods.

    We provide customers with information through product labels and in-store leaflets to help them prepare food hygienically and minimise the risk of food poisoning. This includes tailored advice for groups that are more susceptible to food poisoning, such as the elderly, very young children and pregnant women.


  • A responsible supply of fishmeal to the prawn farming industry

    We recognised some years ago that use of fishmeal from SE Asian fisheries in prawn feeds was an issue and acted on this by working closely with our suppliers in Asia to ensure we have visibility of fishmeal sources used in our farmed prawn feeds to a fishery level.

    We are involved in a number of partnerships and working groups to lead on this progression:

    • We work with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation, FAO and the Princes Charities International Sustainability Unit Marine Programme to help develop programmes of responsible supply of fishmeal to the prawn farming industry
    • We are actively promoting the work in this area within our supply base as well as encouraging other retailer participation (both in Europe and the USA).
    • We are supporting the establishment of Fisheries Improvement Projects in Asia and have attended workshops in both Thailand and Indonesia, where we have presented the need for improvement to industry, government and other stakeholders.

    This is a complex issue and we recognise that this will take time to resolve effectively but we believe there is now commitment to drive change within the industry.

    Our suppliers are also developing alternative ingredients to fishmeal, improving feed production technology and developing alternative culture systems to reduce artificial feed input thus helping to reduce reliance on wild fish ingredients.

    The combined impact of these measures is the ongoing development of a sustainable prawn farming industry capable of producing high quality protein.

  • Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord?

    Whilst no Sainsbury's clothing was produced in the Rana Plaza building, its collapse is a tragic reminder of the importance of our rigorous technical and ethical checks and audits. We are very proud of our clothing, and the high standards which we and our suppliers operate to.

    We firmly believe that there is no substitute for individual retailers taking responsibility for their supply chain. We have a team on the ground in Bangladesh who, supported by our central technical and ethical sourcing team, are able to ensure our customers can trust the quality and integrity of the items they buy from us. That assurance is more important than ever.

    However, it is also important for the industry and others to work together, and so we are playing our part as a signatory to the multi-stakeholder Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. This is coordinated by the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is broadly in line with our existing practices and Ethical Trading Standards. As a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, we look forward to helping to ensure that these proposals effect real and positive change for Bangladesh.

  • CCTV in abattoirs?

    Animal welfare is an issue of paramount importance for both Sainsbury's and our customers. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure that our quality, safety and welfare standards are upheld throughout the manufacturing process. Whilst CCTV is just one of the methods we use to ensure that our standards are met, we recognise the value that CCTV footage can deliver in terms of training and the encouragement of best practice.

    Many of the suppliers that supply our own label meat are already equipped with CCTV or are in the process of installing this. The RSPCA Freedom Food standards will make CCTV a mandatory requirement for Freedom Food suppliers with an implementation deadline of November 2011. We will be asking our remaining suppliers of fresh and frozen primal meat to implement CCTV in their abattoirs by the end of 2011.

  • Countries: source products?

    Our products are sourced from all over the world - from the UK and Europe to Africa, Asia and America, from both developed and developing countries.

    Encouraging local producers is a key part of our sourcing strategy.

  • Difference between ethical and Fairtrade?

    Fairtrade and ethical trade are distinct but complementary. Whilst they both aim at improving the working conditions of workers in developing countries, they are targeted at different types of producer.

    Fairtrade is aimed at small, marginalised and disadvantaged producers. These are often small scale farmers, or independent plantations. It focuses on working with the producer, to allow capacity building and providing export opportunities to those suppliers who would not otherwise have access to them. It also involves ensuring that the terms and conditions of trading with the supplier enable them to maintain and develop good social and environmental conditions.

    Ethical trade is aimed predominantly at the formal sector, and these producers normally already have access to an export market. It tends to operate through codes of conduct, in conjunction with monitoring and verification systems. In the main, suppliers of products to Sainsbury's will fall within this category.

    Both of these approaches are important in improving the conditions for workers in developing countries, with Fairtrade enabling marginalised producers to get a better deal, and ethical trade helping to improve the working conditions of the many mainstream producers that ultimately supply products to us.

  • Do you test products on animals?

    We are opposed to animal testing and have not commissioned any testing on Sainsbury's beauty products or the ingredients they contain since 1988. Animals are used to test our own-label pet food for flavour, preference and palatability in a similar way to the human taste panels we use for food ranges. These animals are kept in a healthy environment, managed by our suppliers, and we do not permit any establishment that carries out any form of invasive animal testing to house or care for these animals.

  • DTI Code of Practice with suppliers?

    Yes. But we also have our own code of practice. The Sainsbury's Statement of Commercial Practice was launched in advance of the DTI code and applies to all suppliers worldwide.

    All suppliers have been sent a copy of the Sainsbury's code of practice, which is in line with the DTI code. Both parties are working to this code.

    Training seminars are held on both codes for all new employees. All relevant staff have received training, including buyers, technologists and key colleagues in the supply chain.

  • Fish sourcing strategy?

    Five species - cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns - make up 80% of the fish we sell. Our approach is to offer Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish where available and we are now the largest MSC retailer in the UK, both in terms of range and turnover. Where it is not possible to achieve MSC certification, we use our unique fish sustainability rating system. Our strategy focuses on aiming for green rating on our unique fish sustainability rating system.

    The system gives a sustainability rating for all the fish we sell:

    • Green - scientifically verified as in plentiful supply
    • Amber - concerns about sustainability, but action is being taken
    • Red - major concerns about sustainability, so we will not sell it.

    We no longer sell any red-rated fish and we are working with suppliers to move any amber-rated fish to green status. We are on target to convert our top five fish species to green status by 2010.

  • Fresh produce: high quality farms?

    It is a Sainsbury's requirement that all of our fresh produce is sourced from suppliers who are certified to Global Gap standards.

    GLOBALGAP is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products world wide by use of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).

    The main aim of the GLOBALGAP standard is to reassure consumers about the quality of food production at farm level by minimising detrimental environmental impacts, reducing the use of chemicals and ensuring a responsible approach to worker and animal welfare.

    There are some instances where our producers are unable to obtain certification to Global Gap standards. For example, when we source produce from additional suppliers due to adverse weather conditions at our regular sources. In this case, an audit will be carried out by a third party body, or by a representative of Sainsbury's to ensure our standards are not compromised.

  • How can you tell that food is organic?

    You cannot tell whether food is organic by looking at it or by testing it. That is why inspection during production is so important. It is illegal to sell any food as organic, unless it has been produced by registered producers according to the EU Organic Regulation. So the use of the word organic on the label is a guarantee that it has been organically produced and this is backed up by the appearance of a certification symbol or code on the pack.

  • How do I apply for Sainsbury's research and development grant?

    Sainsbury's has announced a new £1 million fund to kick start the next wave of improvements to British farming. This grant will incentivise Sainsbury's farmers and suppliers to adopt existing leading edge technologies as well as being a catalyst for new innovations by research institutions at a time when UK farmers are facing increasing challenges from this year's adverse weather, with the associated threat of disease and rising commodity prices. 

    Learn more about  Sainsbury's Research and Development Grant or download the application form.

  • Involvement in ETI?

    We were founder members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) in 1998 and continue to find it invaluable as a stakeholder forum.

    We are active on a number of ETI groups, such as the Food Group and General Merchandise Group. We continue our involvement in the ETI's Homeworkers Working Group to develop ways in which fair treatment, appropriate pay and decent working conditions can be facilitated within the homeworking model.

  • Labelling products as ethical?

    No. At present there is no internationally recognised organisation similar to the Fairtrade Foundation that can work to identify specific criteria and assess them.

    Ultimately, we want our customers to be confident that when they purchase our own-brand products they are buying goods that are not only legal, safe, and, good quality, but are also produced under sound working conditions, where workers are treated fairly.

    We hope that eventually customers will recognise ethical sourcing as an integral part of the Sainsbury's own-brand label.

  • Local producers and British farmers?

    We have long supported British farmers and are committed to sourcing British wherever possible. Supporting British farmers is about more than simply stocking their products though - it is about working with farmers to raise their capacity and skills, empowering them to carry on supplying our business for years to come.

    We are 100% British on all our own-brand:

    • Fresh milk
    • Fresh chickens and frozen whole chickens
    • Fresh sausages - made with British meat
    • Fresh eggs - from British cage free hens
    • Own brand crisps - made with British potatoes
    • Dairy ice cream - made with fresh British milk

    In 2008 we purchased 45% of all tomatoes grown in the UK and more than 23% of the British strawberry crop.

  • Managing seal activity near farms supplying our responsibly sourced salmon

    Sainsbury’s policy on managing seal activity near farms supplying our responsibly sourced salmon is in line with the requirements of the RSPCA’s Freedom Food welfare standards, including those relating to predator control. The effective exclusion of seals and the use of deterrents are the most responsible methods of managing seal activity.

    No-one has done more to tackle the issue of seal interaction on salmon farms than Sainsbury’s and we continue to lead industry with our commitment to continually improve exclusion and deterrent methods.

    Having worked with the Seal Protection Action Group since 2009, we established the Salmon, Aquaculture and Seals Working Group along with our salmon suppliers, Marine Harvest, Scottish Salmon Company, Scottish Salmon Producers Association, Seal Protection Action Group, International Animal Rescue, Sea Mammal Research Unit, St Andrews Uni Marine Scotland, RSPCA Freedom Food, Scottish Natural Heritage Crown Estate and Commission Humane Society International UK in order to drive continuous improvements through innovation and understanding.

    Our efforts have delivered significant improvements in performance on farms and our ultimate goal in working as part of this ground breaking group is to eliminate any need to shoot seals on farms supplying our salmon but recognise that farms may have the legal right to shoot seals as an absolute last resort where a seal poses a threat to fish welfare or containment.

    We are pleased to be working with the leading authorities in the field of animal behaviour, welfare and technology in order to drive standards within our supply base and the salmon industry as a whole. Our leading position in working together to provide a solution which can be employed to protect both salmon and seals alike across the globe is the most responsible course of action.

    All Sainsbury’s fresh farmed salmon is responsibly sourced and we are the first major supermarket to source all our farmed salmon from farms inspected by Freedom Food in accordance with the RSPCA’s strict welfare standards for farmed salmon.

  • Organic products?

    We were the first supermarket to sell organically-grown produce, back in 1986, and continue to be at the forefront of supporting organic methods, launching the largest organic clothing range in the UK in 2007.

    We are also helping to secure the future of UK organic apples through our Organic Concept Orchard programme, which raises the efficiency and crop yields of British organic apple growers.

  • Problem in a factory?

    If we find an issue, it is discussed fully with the supplier, in order to understand its implications and to find the best solution for addressing it. Our philosophy is not to pull out of a factory if issues are found. Whilst this would help protect the Sainsbury's name and reputation, it does not ultimately help the conditions and welfare of the workers. If, for example, we were to take our business away suddenly from a factory where we were a major customer, this could have a detrimental effect on the factory, and could lead to closure or loss of jobs. This is not how we wish to operate, as we want to work to protect the workers and improve their conditions.

    Instead, we discuss with the factory the opportunity for a continuous improvement programme. The supplier would then advise us of the actions it plans to take and the timescales involved. If, for example, a new accommodation block is required, this will involve time and money and cannot be expected to happen overnight. However, we would agree a programme with the supplier for these changes to occur and would monitor the improvements made.

    However, if over time the supplier consistently fails to demonstrate a commitment to meeting the principles of the code and improving the conditions for its workers, and does not wish to work in partnership with us, then of course we would review the conditions and status of its trading relationship with us.

  • Problems caused by sourcing palm oil?

    Rather than banning the use of palm oil, we are committed to finding a sustainable solution that will stop deforestation whilst continuing to support the communities that rely on its production.

    We have committed to using certified sustainable palm oil in all own-brand food as soon as it is available and will only use certified sustainable palm oil by 2014. The first food on UK supermarket shelves to contain certified sustainable palm oil was our 'basics' fish fingers, in May 2008.

    We will be the first supermarket to label the use of palm oil in all its food. Labelling has now been completed on all our fresh and chilled food.

  • Regional products?

    All our counter beef and lamb in Scotland, Wales, the West Country and Northern Ireland is now regionally sourced. And since the end of March 2008, 100% of the fresh beef sold in our nine Northern Ireland stores has been sourced, processed and packed locally.

    In July 2006, we launched the Supply Something New scheme, in partnership with Food from Britain, aimed at making it easier for small and medium-sized suppliers to introduce their products to us.

    We have established a website - www.supplysomethingnew.co.uk - where suppliers can go to find out about the scheme, and apply online. Two years after launching the scheme, sales from regional products from sixteen suppliers have hit a landmark of £2.5 million from their listings with Sainsbury's.

  • Sainsbury’s Code of Conduct?

    Our Code of Conduct for Socially Responsible Sourcing details certain principles that underpin our trading relationships. In building partnerships with suppliers, we seek to work with companies who share our values and who are prepared to commit themselves to our principles. The code focuses on:

    • Fair terms of trading
    • Protection of children
    • Health and safety
    • Equal opportunities
    • Freedom of association
    • Freedom of employment
    • Remuneration.

    The code is based on a number of core International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, which are fundamental to the rights of people at work. The ILO is a United Nations specialist agency that seeks to promote justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights.

  • Seasonal workers?

    Gang masters and employment agencies provide temporary workers to meet seasonal demands of planting, harvesting and packing. There are concerns that some providers are operating outside the law. We supported the development of the Gang Masters Licensing (Exclusions) Regulations, which came into force in April 2006 and makes the licensing of gang masters mandatory. We work closely with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) which regulates the use of temporary labour. All our Product Technologists undergo mandatory training on the GLA standards. In 2008 we have also worked with the GLA and other retailers to draft a 'Ways of Working Protocol'.

  • Sourcing with integrity?

    Sourcing with integrity means taking many different considerations into account to offer products that are better all round.

    For us sourcing with integrity is about:

    • Working in partnership with our suppliers
    • Supporting British farmers
    • Promoting animal welfare
    • Supporting Fairtrade
    • Sustainable sourcing.
  • Suppliers receive adequate price for produce?

    We pay a fair commodity price, reflecting market forces, which ensures our suppliers can sell products at a competitive price in our stores.

    We have partnership agreements with suppliers, which includes working with them and producers to understand the pricing they need to make their businesses successful.

    We encourage suppliers to develop their products and help them to develop their business. For example, through partnership schemes and supplier development programmes.

    Our Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group is an example. We work with the farmers who supply our milk to increase their efficiency and profitability and pay them a premium for their milk in return.

  • Supply chain standards?

    Suppliers are required to complete self-assessments to determine whether they meet the standards in our Code of Conduct for Socially Responsible Sourcing. This is implemented through Sedex, the largest online global database of labour standards. We use this information to help categorise our suppliers as high, medium or low risk. We then work with suppliers to ensure an independent third party audit is conducted where necessary, to verify that appropriate working conditions are in place.

  • Timber sourcing strategy?

    75% of our wood-based products are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and all of our tissue, toilet roll and kitchen towel is now either approved by the FSC or 100% recycled.

    We are members of the WWF Forest and Trade Network group (WWF-FTN), which commits us to source wood-based products from sustainably managed forests, such as those certified to the FSC scheme. We work in partnership with WWF-FTN, as well as our suppliers, to eliminate illegally sourced materials and promote credible third-party certification.

  • What does the Fairtrade Mark represent?

    The Fairtrade Mark guarantees that the product comes from producers who receive fair terms of trade and fair prices. The Fairtrade Foundation sets and monitors the criteria for labelling with the Fairtrade Mark. The criteria relate to:

    • Payment of minimum wages
    • Premium prices
    • Worker representation
    • Employee welfare
    • Purchasing conditions
    • Health and safety
    • The environment.

    Assessments are carried out by an accreditation body against the set criteria. To date such criteria have been established for commodity products such as coffee, tea, cocoa (and therefore chocolate), honey and bananas.

    The Fairtrade Mark requires that products are bought at a price that covers the cost of production and that a social premium is paid. These enable the producers to improve the social and environmental conditions in which they live and work. This premium is reflected in the cost paid by the customer.

    We do not make any additional profit on Fairtrade products, nor do we subsidise them. The extra costs incurred by suppliers are passed on to customers. We feel this is the fairest way to operate for all those concerned.

  • What is Mass Balance?

    Many Fairtrade ingredients can be tracked and kept separate from non-Fairtrade ingredients all the way from their source farm to the shop floor. In fact, keeping all Fairtrade ingredients separate is the ultimate goal of the Fairtrade system. Where this isn't possible, the Fairtrade have adopted the Mass Balance system to ensure that the Fairtrade certified producers still receive the full benefits of Fairtrade, including the Fairtrade Premium.

    For more information about Mass Balance, please visit the Fairtrade website.

  • What is organic food?

    For about 50 years, the word 'organic' has been used in the UK to describe food grown without reliance on most artificial fertilisers or pesticides and in a way that emphasises crop rotation. This helps make the most of natural fertility and ensures that the life of the soil is maintained.

    Organic meat comes from animals kept in ways that minimise the need for medicines and other chemical treatments. The key difference between standard and organic food is that it also has to comply with particular standards and inspection requirements.

  • What is Sainsbury’s policy on GM?

    Whilst the latest scientific research and current Government advice is that GM ingredients do not present any risks to human health, we acknowledge the concerns of our customers and do not permit the use of GM crops, ingredients, additives or derivatives in any Sainsbury's own label food, drink, pet food, dietary supplements or floral products, this remains the case.

    We know that some people also have concerns about products from animals whose feed may contain GM ingredients. We therefore offer a choice of products from livestock fed a non-GM diet.

    Following the recent industry-wide availability issues of non-GM animal feed it has become increasingly difficult to source non-GM feed in the short term. As part of our commitment to provide customers with a choice, the following ranges will continue to be guaranteed to have been fed a non-GM diet: 

    • All Sainsbury's SO Organic products
    • All our fresh and frozen Taste the Difference and SO Organic chicken, turkey and duck
    • All our fresh Taste the Difference, Omega-3 and SO Organic eggs
    • All our SO Organic pork and bacon
    • All our SO Organic beef
    • All our farmed salmon
  • What is Sainsbury’s position on Fairtrade?

    We are the biggest retailer of Fairtrade products in the UK, measured by market share*.

    In 1994, we were the first major multiple in the UK to launch Fairtrade food. Today, all our bananas are 100% Fairtrade and we now sell more Fairtrade bananas than all other major UK supermarkets combined.

    Our annual Fairtrade sales in 2010 now amount to £276 million, accounting for around one-third of all Fairtrade sales in the UK. In 2010, all our roast and ground coffee and tea (excluding speciality tea) became 100% Fairtrade.

  • What is your attitude to peat?

    We are committed to work within the UK Government's target to reduce peat in all growing media by 2010. Our suppliers have been running a range of projects to test the viability of reducing the use of peat as a growing medium.

  • What is your position on Red Tractor labelling?

    Customers have told us that too many logos are confusing, so we will be phasing out the use of the Red Tractor logo on pack. We will still use the Red Tractor standards as part of our wider sourcing standards.

    Suggesting this is a step back from supporting British farmers couldn't be further from the truth; we are actually stepping up our commitment. We aim to double our sales of British food by 2020. Over the last five years we've invested £40 million into British farming, for example paying our Dairy Development Group farmers a premium for good animal husbandry and environmental practices well above what is defined by Red Tractor. In August we led the way in paying our dedicated pork producers a premium to reflect rising feed costs. Only last month we announced a new £1 million agricultural fund to support British farmers, and we were recently awarded for our leadership and innovation in retail by Compassion in World Farming.


  • Impact on environment?

    To us, respect for our environment means a more responsible approach to:

    • Reducing our carbon footprint - decreasing our CO2 emissions through energy efficiency, using renewable
    • Reducing, reusing and recycling our waste, including carrier bags, packaging and food waste
    • Managing resources, such as water, sustainably

    As a major retailer, we have an important role to play in reducing our environmental impact but we are also in a position to make a real difference when it comes to influencing our 18 million customers and our network of suppliers to change their behaviour too.

  • Position on climate change?

    We take the threat of climate change seriously. As a retailer our focus is on reducing our emissions, and helping our customers to reduce theirs.

    Each year, we launch new projects to achieve further reductions in our energy consumption, which also means reducing our carbon footprint.

    Our target is to reduce our CO2 emissions by 25% per square meter, by 2012, against a 2005/06 baseline.

    As part of our low energy store programme we are trialling new energy saving technologies, to identify those which can be rolled out across our stores. In August 2008 we opened our flagship Dartmouth store which has achieved an overall CO2 emissions reduction of 54%.

    For our existing stores, achieving significant energy efficiency improvements can be more challenging, which is why we launched 'Project RESET' in 2007. Through this project we systematically 'reset' energy efficiency on a store-by-store basis. Over 200 stores have been completed so far, with average energy savings of 15% achieved in each store. In 2009 we will continue the scheme, targeting a total of 100 stores in 2009/10.

    In 2008/09 our energy efficiency programme has resulted in an absolute reduction in carbon of 10,786 tonnes CO2. This has been achieved even with significant growth in sales and retail space. We have consistently reported on absolute emissions from our supermarkets since 1996.

  • Improving performance of transport fleet?

    We are committed to improving the efficiency of our transport fleet. We will continue to reduce our depot to store transport CO2 emissions (CO2 per case of product) by 15% by 2012 against a 2005/6 baseline. In the past 2 years we have been able to take 7.7 million kilometres off our roads, significantly exceeding our target of 5 million kilometres by 2010. We have achieved this by reviewing how best to get product from our suppliers to our stores, via our 21 depots.

    In 2008 we started delivering food to our Dartmouth flagship store using a lorry powered by bio-methane produced from rotting rubbish.

  • Reduce food miles?

    We are committed to improving the efficiency of our transport fleet, and minimising the number of road miles we travel. However, we also recognise that food miles are just one factor contributing to overall environmental impact. For example, our research into the carbon footprint of Kenyan roses and Dutch roses showed that Kenyan roses, despite travelling further, have a lower footprint.

    We believe in looking at the overall sustainability of our decisions - social, economic and environmental. We are committed to taking the widest range of information into consideration when making decisions to tackle climate change.

  • Reducing waste to landfill?

    Our vision is to send zero waste to landfill. We view waste as a valuable resource and believe waste should be put to a number of alternative uses, including the generation of energy. We believe that diversion to landfill is the least desired option.

    Our goal is to have all supermarkets and depots connected to a zero waste to landfill programme by the end of 2010. In the next phase towards this goal, we are embarking on a trial in summer 2009 to connect supermarkets and depots to a zero waste to landfill programme, with the aim of rolling this out to all supermarkets and depots by the end of 2010.

  • How much waste do you send to landfill?

    Our vision is to send zero waste to landfill. In 2008/9 we diverted nearly 140,000 tonnes of waste from going to landfill, meaning that the total amount sent to landfill was less than 79,000 tonnes. Our goal is to have all supermarkets and depots connected to a zero waste to landfill programme by the end of 2010.

  • Reduce food waste?

    Our goal is to have all supermarkets and depots connected to a zero food waste to landfill programme by the end of 2009. Since autumn 2008, the food waste from 38 of our supermarkets and our Northampton depot has been sent for anaerobic digestion, where it is broken down into fertiliser and methane gas, used to generate electricity.

  • Reduce plastic bag use?

    Our approach to reducing the impact of free single-use carrier bags is to work with our customers to bring about real change.

    In 2007 we gave out 15 million free Bags for Life and in our April 2008 'Make the Difference Day' we distributed fridge magnets and car stickers to remind our customers to re-use their bags. In June 2008 we began rewarding our customers with a Nectar point for every bag re-used. We also increased the recycled content of our carrier bags from 33% to 50%. Then in October 2008 we removed free carrier bags from our checkouts.

    Through our step-by-step 'Remind, Reward, Remove' approach, we have reduced the number of free single-use bags issued in the last two years by 58%, also reducing the environmental impact of our carrier bags by 63% over the last three years, as measured by the amount of virgin plastic used.

  • Reduce packaging?

    Our goal is to reduce our own brand packaging weight relative to sales, by 33% by 2015 against a 2009 baseline. Since 2004/05 we have reduced our total packaging by 13.32% and we are now working to reduce our own brand packaging weight by 33%, relative to sales, by 2015 (using a 2009 baseline). We aim for our packaging to be reusable, recyclable or home compostable. We also aim to use recycled materials where possible.

  • Encourage recycling?

    We are focussed on making it easy for our customers to recycle. We are committed to implementing the British Retail Consortium's on-pack guidance, and to developing and rolling out recyclable and compostable packaging on our products.

    We were the first retailer to set out to use a comprehensive packaging labelling system, in 2006, that not only labels each component but specifically identifies the components that can and cannot be recycled.

    We define what can and cannot be recycled in terms of whether local authorities commonly offer recycling facilities for the material. Messages include: 'sorry not yet recyclable' or 'most councils will collect this for recycling' to make it much clearer to customers what they can do to recycle or home-compost.

    We offer car park recycling banks in many of our main stores. This means we can increase the materials that customers want to recycle, including clothing. We are evaluating the feasibility of expanding this to our other stores.

    We are the only UK supermarket to offer polythene packaging recycling facilities for items such as grape and cereal bags. In 2008/09 we led the first ever mixed plastics recycling trial in the UK, in conjunction with 'Closed Loop Recycling' and other partners, funded by WRAP. The aim of the trial was to identify the most practical and economical method for collecting all types of plastic packaging via a single collection point.


  • How do you invest in your communities?

    Our stores are at the heart of the communities they serve. We believe in making a difference in the communities where we live and work, every single day. This begins with jobs and our support for local economies. With around 150,000 colleagues working in nearly 800 stores, we are a major contributor to local employment and economies in the UK.

    We also work to make a positive social impact on our community. We achieve this through a number of community programmes.

    • Local Charity of the Year - our Local Charity of the Year scheme invites customers and colleagues to nominate a local charity partner to support each year. Following a successful trial in 166 of our stores, we are extending the programme to all stores, depots and our store support centres
    • Active Kids - we have donated £70 million of sports and activity equipment through our Active Kids scheme. Our Active Kids Get Cooking programme also provides a free resource to support the teaching of food technology and nutrition in schools
    • Comic Relief - together with the support of our customers and colleagues we raised over £11 million for Comic Relief this year, the largest single contribution ever made to Comic Relief
    • Colleague volunteering - through our Local Heroes scheme our colleagues raised £788,000 for good causes in 2008/09 through fundraising and volunteering. We matched their efforts by donating £235,000 to support their chosen causes
    • Food Donations - in 2008/09 we donated over £5 million of surplus food to local charities across the UK
    • Safer neighbourhoods - we work in partnership with police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to promote safer, more secure neighbourhoods.
  • What provisions are in place for disabled customers?

    We want all our customers to be able to shop at Sainsbury's easily - including disabled people, the elderly and people with young children. We make specific provisions at stores for people with special needs but our home shopping service is also available for people who do not want or are unable to shop in our stores.

    Sainsbury's recognises that each of its customers is an individual with individual needs. As part of delivering excellent customer service, all store colleagues receive disability training as part of their induction programme to ensure that they have an awareness of the needs of disabled customers.

    Sainsbury's provides the following facilities and services to make our customers' shopping experience easy and enjoyable:

    Accessible toilets

    Selected stores have specially designed toilets for our disabled customers. Please visit store locator for details of which stores offer this facility.

    Designated disability parking spaces

    All car parks have designated disabled parking spaces. These are situated near the main store entrance for any of our customers with a mobility/access requirement.

    Guide/Assistance dogs

    Guide dogs for visually impaired customers and assistance dogs for the hard of hearing and other customers with disabilities are welcome in all of our stores.

    Help with your shopping

    We always endeavour to offer our customers any assistance they require with their shopping. Personal shoppers are available to accompany customers around the store and do their shopping with them. Further help is also available at the checkouts if customers would like assistance with packing shopping. We are also happy to carry shopping bags to the car if requested.

    Induction loop system for hearing impaired

    The majority of our stores now have hearing induction loops installed to help hearing-aid users interact with colleagues at specific locations around the store, including selected checkouts and the customer service desk.

    Service call in petrol stations

    The majority of our petrol stations have a service call facility, enabling disabled drivers to request assistance without leaving their vehicle. Our petrol colleagues will be happy to help.

    Wheelchairs and specially adapted trolleys

    These are available in every store and electric scooters are available in selected larger stores. The latter can always be requested for a specific customer, where space permits.

    We are also trialing new designs of trolleys to ensure that we cater for all of our customers with disabilities.

    Wide-aisle checkouts

    These are in most of our stores and can be clearly identified by signage displayed above the checkout. These are ideal for customers who use wheelchairs.

  • How are you dealing with abandoned trolleys?

    We recognise that abandoned trolleys can be a nuisance locally and we seek to prevent customers from removing trolleys from our stores. We have found that coin-operated lock systems are successful in addressing this problem. We continue to work closely with local authorities to tackle this issue in a cost-effective and efficient way.


  • How do you make Sainsbury’s a Great place to work?

    Making our business a great place to work means focusing on:

    • Equality, diversity and inclusion, which involves offering job opportunities and skills development to all our colleagues
    • Engagement and recognition
    • Colleague health and wellbeing
  • How many people does Sainsbury’s employ?

    We employ approximately 161,000 colleagues.

  • Support employee skills and development?

    We were the first supermarket to sign the Government's 'Skills Pledge', a commitment that all colleagues will have the opportunity to gain a nationally-recognised qualification relevant to the sector, that recognises their skills and capabilities.

    Our aim is for 25% of all colleagues to have a nationally recognised qualification by 2013.

    Launched in November 2008, 'You Can' is our umbrella brand for a variety of programmes aimed at enabling a wide range of people to join the work force or enhance their skills. It combines the best of established and new initiatives and in particular the skills development for both new and existing colleagues.

    In addition to a very comprehensive training offer we have developed a number of programmes to support our specific business needs and enable our colleagues to develop to their full potential.

    For example, our bakery, meat and fish apprenticeship schemes offer colleagues the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification including NVQ Level 2 and a technical certificate.

  • Policy on equality and inclusion?

    We are committed to ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to access Sainsbury's as an employer, regardless of their background. We firmly believe that our diverse workforce helps us to meet the varying needs of our customers, as well as providing the opportunity for all to gain meaningful work.

    We seek to ensure that all colleagues, job applicants, customers, contractors and suppliers should be treated fairly regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin or community background, gender, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or family status, religious or political beliefs and affiliations, disability, age, real or suspected infection with HIV/AIDS, differing working patterns, or membership or non membership of a trade union.

    Our aim is that all colleagues should be able to work in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying, and that they should not be disadvantaged by conditions or requirements that are unjust or unfair.

  • Engage with colleagues?

    We communicate honestly and openly with our colleagues to listen and respond to their concerns. 'Talkback', our colleague engagement survey, is one of the core mechanisms used to monitor colleague feedback, alongside our 'Tell Justin' colleague suggestion scheme and our Colleague Councils.

  • Whistle blowing policy?

    Launched in May 2008, 'Rightline' is our entirely confidential and independently run 'hotline' service. This provides suppliers and colleagues with a direct route to raise serious concerns relating to fraud, theft or breaches of our codes of practice. Concerns raised through this mechanism are strictly monitored.

  • Female directors on Board?

    The J Sainsbury plc Board comprises three Executive Directors and seven Non-executive Directors. There are three female directors.

  • What is your position on pay?

    We are committed to providing competitive pay and benefits to all our colleagues. In recent years we have invested significantly in our pay rates and benefits to make sure our colleagues continue to be paid fair and competitive rates. Our 2013 colleague pay review saw an increase in our base rate of 2.6%, which was ahead of the industry average and National Minimum Wage increase.

    As a responsible employer, our basic hourly rate is well above the National Minimum Wage and alongside this we offer a range of additional benefits, including competitive bonuses, a store discount card, skills premiums, paid breaks, payouts from our share schemes and a contributory pension scheme with Sainsbury's matching payments. We also have a location allowance to reflect factors such as local pay rates, competition and higher living costs in places such as London.

  • What about location pay?

    We pay location pay on top of our base rates in certain stores where the local market pay rates deem it necessary, which makes the total rate per hour relevant and competitive for the specific location. We also pay skills payments on top of our base rates for certain roles to recognise additional skills or responsibilities that are required by colleagues to fulfil those roles.

  • What benefits are Sainsbury's colleagues entitled to?

    As well as including competitive rates of pay, our Total Reward package includes a number of other additional benefits:

    • This year (2012) 126,000 colleagues shared in a bonus totalling over £60 million, a figure which over the last five years has exceeded £300 million.
    • Colleagues are entitled to a discount card which gives them 10% off their weekly shopping with Sainsbury's, increased to 15% at regular times during the year (for example at Christmas, Easter and during the Summer).
    • This year over 11,000 colleagues shared in an additional £26.5 millionpayout in savings and profit via two of our Sharesave schemes.
    • A contributory stakeholder pension scheme, open to all colleagues.
    • Flexible and inclusive working packages  and family friendly policies. Many of our 150,000 colleagues place a high value on the ability this gives them to balance the demands of family and work commitments. This is evidenced through our turnover rates which are currently at a record low, reflecting our colleagues' job satisfaction. 
    • Employee Assistance Programme. This service is provided by a registered charity called Retail Trust, who is totally independent from Sainsbury's. This is a completely confidential and free of charge helpline, providing free support for colleagues who have a problem and may benefit from free short term counselling, personal legal or debt advice or who may have experienced harassment, bullying or discrimination.
    • Commitment to training and development.  We are the first retailer to be awarded a gold accreditation from 'Investors in People' for our commitment to improve our business by investing in our colleagues.  We also recently launched a new sustainability plan in which we have committed that by 2020, at least half of our colleagues will have received externally accredited training.  Currently over 18,000 colleagues have been trained through our City and Guilds accredited food colleges.