Supermarket Secrets: Feeding a nation

Wednesday 3 July 2013, 09:46

Gregg Wallace Gregg Wallace Presenter

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In presenting Supermarket Secrets I have had the most incredible insight into one of the undoubted phenomena of the modern era.

Quite how supermarkets have become such an essential part of our lives is an amazing and thought-provoking story.

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The weather plays a huge factor in what we buy, especially when the sun comes out

I know of no other industry that is so interwoven into the fabric of our society, yet gets so little love from that very society.

Can anyone reading this think of any other business or service that is used by such a high percentage of the population, yet comes under such criticism?

Virtually everybody in the UK uses supermarkets, yet few of us seem to enjoy it. Many of us go as far as to say the supermarkets have not only destroyed the High Street but also parts of our community and even our Britishness.

Why if this is so, do so many of us visit them and spend our hard-earned money?

Never before this series have the supermarkets allowed television so much access to their inner workings.

Over the course of a year I watched, worked, probed and filmed the technical teams, the product developers and the buyers from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and the Co-operative.

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Has Gregg got what it takes to be a master butcher?

It is an incredible story. These people play a huge part nowadays in the feeding of a nation. How on earth do you do that? How do you get so many eggs fresh on a shelf every day? That’s just for starters.

What do we want when the sun shines? What do we want when it gets cold? Do we all want the same thing?

I, like most of us I should imagine, don’t give it a moment’s thought. I wander in to my local supermarket with a list of the things I want. It’s mostly food but it could be carpet cleaner, mouth wash or a television.

I don’t wonder how these things got into the store: I just take it for granted that what I want is going to be there.

Once I started thinking about it my head exploded. Every sporting occasion, every bank holiday, every religious festival and every single change in temperature will dramatically alter what it is we want to buy.

I, with the help of some very dedicated and patient television makers, have followed the story of the produce on our shelves from planning, through purchasing, transport and packing.

I promise you, the scale, the work and the science that goes on behind it is amazing.

Gregg Wallace is the presenter of Supermarket Secrets.

Supermarket Secrets begins on Thursday, 4 July at 9pm on BBC One. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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    Comment number 8.

    In the section about bananas the boxes have been unloaded from Ffyfes and are being re-packaged for a Co-Op consignment. It appears at 46.40 on the programme that the bananas are being packaged with Fairtrade labels on them. Does this mean that all Ffyfes bananas are all Fairtrade, or is the Co-op packaging misleading the customer by claiming to be Fairtrade when it obviously isn't?

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 10.

    I was out of the country when this documentary was flighted. I am told it featured my ripening machines being used at Fyffes. Is it possible to get hold of a copy of this insert ? I could not find it on I player
    Peter Evans [Personal details removed by Moderator]

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    Comment number 11.

    When are the next episodes on and why is the first episode not available on the iPlayer? Please put all 4 episodes on the iPlayer after the 4th episode has been shown so that we can download them.

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    Comment number 7.

    Hi Greg. I really enjoyed the programme. Coming from a retail background and having studied retailing at university. Really looking forward to the next programme. One final point you referred to strawberries throughout the programme as berries. This is technically incorrect. As strawberries don't belong to the berry family. Although strangely bananas do. Thanks for your time. Hywel.


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