UK supermarkets sell tomatoes grown in illegally-occupied Western Sahara. They label them as “Moroccan”. This is clearly misleading. Trading Standards can take action to stop this if they get enough complaints. So let's take action.
Ever since the invasion in 1975 Morocco has claimed that Western Sahara is part of Morocco. No other country recognises this claim.
Despite this, Morocco exports Western Saharan resources and produce, and labels them as Moroccan. This strengthens Morocco's hold on Western Sahara, and allows Morocco to profit from its illegal occupation.
We need to challenge this whenever we see it happening.
The Tomato Trade: from agribusiness under military occupation, to a supermarket near you
Cherry Tomatoes from Western Sahara will be arriving in supermarkets in the next month. The plantations producing these tomatoes are either owned by the King of Morocco himself, or by French-Moroccan multinationals. They are generally grown near the town of Dakhla, hundreds of miles south of the Moroccan border. But the supermarkets label these as being ‘Produce of Morocco’.
Saharawis say they don't benefit from this trade. They don't get the jobs. Worse than that: large-scale horticulture in the desert may be putting a serious strain on the local water supply.
Misleading consumers is illegal under UK law.
WSC has received letters from Tesco and Morrisons saying that they do sell tomatoes from Western Sahara and label them as being from Morocco.
"In summary, in our view, given that Western Sahara is a territory legally distinct from Morocco and that the United Kingdom is obliged to recognise it as such, the labelling of products from Western Sahara as originating from Morocco would not be legal in the United Kingdom"
WSC has raised this with Trading Standards. So far they have taken no action – as they have not had enough complaints. It's time for that to change.
What to do
You can help by reporting this to Trading Standards.
First, go tomato hunting! Find a supermarket (or more than one!) selling cherry tomatoes labelled as produce of "Morocco".
Then, contact Trading Standards. Tell them you have seen cherry tomatoes in your local supermarket labelled as produce of Morocco, but you believe they are really from Western Sahara.
To report a problem to Trading Standards you will need to contact the Citizens Advice consumer service. They will pass the complaint to Trading Standards in your area. You can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.
You can also email your concern via their website: https://ssl.datamotion.com/form.aspx?co=3438&frm=citacomplainform&to=flare.fromforms
Please keep in touch with WSC - email
to let us know what action you have taken, and especially if you get any response.
WESTERN SAHARA CAMPAIGN UK
The Western Sahara Campaign works in solidarity with the Saharawi people to generate political support in order to advance their right to self-determination and to promote their human rights.
Our role is to lobby the UK Government and the EU. You can help us to ensure the UK does not ignore the voice of the Saharawi people.
Follow the news about EU's illegal fisheries in Western Sahara