Sainsbury’s rejects calls for a ban on Israeli goods

Sainsbury’s has rejected anti-Israel activists’ calls for the company to ban Israeli goods being sold in its supermarkets.

Chairman David Tyler told the firm’s annual general meeting that no boycott of Israel would be considered.

Around 20 anti-Israel protesters had demonstrated outside the AGM in Westminster. Inside, a number of activists on both sides questioned Sainsbury’s executives over the issue.

The campaigners heard Mr Tyler, and chief executive Justin King, explain that the company did not source any products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian farmers’ products are sold with “clear and accurate” labels, they said.

But they added that there was no intention to impose an outright boycott of Israeli products.

Speaking on behalf of the anti-boycotts Fair Play Campaign Group, Steven Jaffe said that Sainsbury’s should use its position to bring Israeli and Palestinian suppliers together.

Anti-Israel campaigner Sue Blackwell said she had emailed Mr King with evidence of mislabelling of settlement products. She claimed that Sainsbury’s “claims to support ethical trading but sources products from illegal Israeli settlements”.

Sainsbury’s said Mr King had responded to complaints about labelling and had told activists: “As a non-political organisation, we source our products according to their ability to meet our quality, safety and ethical standards. We prefer to give our customers the opportunity to make their own decision in terms of the products they buy.

“We take our guidance on how to label the country of origin on products from the recommendations issued by the government.”

They later added: “There is no evidence that any Sainsbury’s products have been mislabelled in this way.”

Last updated: 3:45pm, July 19 2013