Waitrose Supermarkets have dropped the sale of ostrich meat from all its stores.
This dramatic change in policy was faxed through to Viva! today, Friday February 26.
Waitrose claim the decision was taken because of 'supplier difficulties' but the timing was clearly designed to pre-empt a national media photo call outside the company's prestigious Finchley Road store. Members of Viva!, dressed in dull grey suits and with sand buckets over their heads, were to carry the slogan - 'Waitrose management - hiding from ostrich cruelty'. It was to be followed by a national day of action against Waitrose by Viva! groups across Britain on Saturday Feb 27. Waitrose conceded defeat just half-an-hour before the press call.
Juliet Gellatley, Viva! Director, says: "This is the final victory for wildlife against the big supermarkets. Tesco, Somerfield, Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury, Booker Cash & Carry and now Waitrose - one by one they have all dropped 'exotic' meats as Viva! has focused public attention on their cruel trade in wild animals. We have no hesitation in claiming Waitrose's decision as our final victory in this campaign, which has been fought at a local level all over Britain. The vast majority of the general public has been behind us - disgusted by the sale of kangaroo, alligator, crocodile and ostrich meat."
Viva! launched its campaign against exotic meats three years ago and targeted individual supermarkets one at a time. Tesco was the first - and the biggest supplier. Only days after issuing a press release saying that kangaroo meat was 'flying off the shelves' it dropped all exotic meats because of 'lack of public demand'. Somerfield were next, cancelling a whole new range of prepared dishes containing exotic meats. Booker, Morrisons and Asda gave up without a fight. A national day of action against Sainsbury's in July 1998 pproved a public relations disaster for the company. A second one was planned for February 1999. Sainsbury's reluctantly gave in and dropped the meat just days before - because of 'lack of sales'.
"We have shown that these monolithic organisations are extremely vulnerable to public pressure and we have effectively stopped them from acting as Trojan horses for the exploitation of the world's disappearing wildlife". There are clear lessons here for the future and concerns over new possible threats such as genetic modification", concludes Ms Gellatley.
For further information contact Juliet Gellatley, Lesley Jeavons or Kate Fowler on 0117 944 1000