Which online supermarket has been rated worst for grocery freshness?

Credit: PA

Upmarket supermarket Waitrose has been rated as the worst major online retailer for grocery freshness, according to new research.

Consumer specialists at Which? investigated the quality and longevity of fresh produce from UK grocers in an investigation, which saw the country’s biggest chain Tesco perform the strongest.

Which? used a team of 12 undercover shoppers to order more than 1,000 groceries from six major supermarket chains to examine how fresh their food and drink products are.

A Waitrose delivery truck in Bristol, UK. Credit: PA Media

Each shopper ordered the same 16 perishable grocery items from each of the online supermarkets.

It totalled up the number of full hours remaining from the time of delivery to midnight on the use-by date for each item and calculated an average time per supermarket.

Tesco came top of the pile for freshness, with items lasting an average of 11 days.

The supermarket showed the expected shelf life of perishable items on its website and had no examples of damaged packaging or food that had gone off by the time it was delivered, unlike some rivals.

Tesco was closely followed by Asda, which had an average of 10.5 days of shelf life on its products on all grocery items, although it did deliver one pack of bacon on its use-by date.

Meanwhile, online-only rival Ocado was just behind Asda with an average life of 10.4 days for products.

Waitrose, which launched its own online business last year after ending a partnership with Ocado, was bottom of the table, with items lasting an average of 8.6 days.

Tesco groceries, in one of the London branches. Credit: PA Media

The supermarket also delivered two packets of beef that appeared to have gone off, despite being within their use-by dates.

Waitrose said: “We always train our Partners to pick products with the longest best-before date for online deliveries – we’re sorry this fell short of our high standards and are committed to making this better for our customers.

“From time to time we sometimes shorten the date codes on certain fresh produce to ensure it’s at optimum quality – so this may also have been a factor behind the results.”