Food bought online is less fresh than that bought in-store, consumer group Which? claimed today (22 November).

The research, conducted in October, found that on average the best-before dates in the stores were more than a day later than those for the same products bought online.
 
In its investigation, Which? bought ten general grocery items from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Waitrose stores, choosing the freshest, non-organic produce.

Which? also arranged online purchases of the same items from the same supermarkets and from Ocado - the online partner of Waitrose- to arrive on the same day as its shop visits.

However, Which? said no supermarket chain performed worse than any other overall.
 
The findings confirmed concerns Which? had raised in March, when it revealed that only around four out of ten Asda and Sainsbury's shoppers believed use-by dates on groceries from their most recent online shop were as extended as those they would have selected in a store. Six in ten Waitrose Deliver and Ocado customers felt the same.
 
Which? said it contacted the retailers to ask how they pick products for their online customers. Tesco told the consumer group that it uses personal shoppers to pick the freshest produce from stores and customers can request minimum best-buy dates.

Sainsbury's told the consumer group that it also uses store pickers and was committed to providing the freshest produce, while Waitrose said that its online pickers select items during opening hours, so goods are the same as those that customers can choose in-store.
 
Asda did not respond to the Which? enquiry in time, the consumer group reported.