Bradshaw family to buy British-only for a year

Posted on 15 Jan 2013

A family from Kent has challenged itself to live on only British goods for a year.

Is British manufacturing in such a poor state that one family cannot survive without foreign imports? This family are about to find out.

The Bradshaw family’s New Year’s resolution means that all their food, clothing, house-wares, electronics, fuel and everything else must be made, designed or produced in Britain by British companies.

Buying British for a Year

Living in a two-bedroom semi-detached house in the small town of Westerham, Kent, the Bradshaws were frustrated by the UK’s failing economy so decided to buy British goods that provide employment in the UK.

The family of three, James, Emily and their two year old son Lucan, want to raise the awareness of British products and are listing British suppliers on their blog.

From tea produced in Cornwall on The Tregothnan Estate to Women’s Institute Flour that is so far the only supermarket flour to be produced in the UK, sold in Waitrose, the family are taking suggestions and the publicity is already helping to boost sales of the UK manufacturers named on their website

With freezing weather predicted to hit the UK over the coming week the family has stocked up on Bluecol screen wash and antifreeze, made in Lancashire, for a family car running on petrol from UK-based BP and Murco, which refines oil in the UK.

Murco’s refinery in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, refines 6 million tonnes of oil each year, with its products distributed by road, rail, sea and pipeline to the Midlands and Manchester.

However, the family may rethink their purchase of petrol from BP as, despite being British owned, the company hasn’t owned a single refinery in the UK since 2005 when it sold its refining subsidiary Innovene to chemicals group INEOS.

Foreign-owned sites, such as US-based Phillips 66, produce more fuel in the UK. Its refinery in Hull refines 11.5 million tonnes every year after heavy investment in its manufacturing facilities and employs 750 people at the site supplying petrol and diesel sold in Jet petrol stations.

Food for thought

The family had to visit two supermarkets to buy its weekly shop, where Emily Bradshaw “thought that I would naturally find everything we needed, and probably more.”

However, the family were surprised by the number of products typically associated with the UK but now made abroad or sold to overseas. Pears soap, which the family blogged on on their website, might be associated “with a British bygone era” but is actually manufactured in India.

They were also disappointed that they could not find a British-made and owned vinegar.

Sarsons is now owned by Japanese Mizkan after being sold by Premier Foods and the Aspall range of vinegars the Bradshaw family thought it could classify as British enough to purchase, in line with the rules of their challenge, “was sadly not produced in the UK, or rather is very ambiguous as to where the vinegar is produced.”

The family stuck to their challenge and are going without vinegar until they find a British manufacturer.

Unfortunately for Emily, she found out that Twinings tea moved all its manufacturing facilities from the UK to Poland.

Correcting the manufacturing exodus of the past

The Bradshaw family was also disappointed to find only one English wine in a large Tesco store, with nothing in either the red or the sparkling sections despite having nine wine producers in Kent. The family had to go to Waitrose to buy their English wine.

Despite the disappointments the family is hoping that they will find hidden UK manufacturers to fill gaps left in their supermarket shop, and help promote British products.

Mr and Mrs Bradshaw have already written to Coolings Garden Centre in Knockholt, Kent, because they have chosen to stock a Spanish container manufacturer instead of their new Twitter friend Rainbow Trugs, a UK manufacturer of plastic containers.

The Bradshaw family’s challenge will undoubtedly be hard and time-consuming but may encourage retailers to stock British products and consumers to think about purchasing more British made goods.

Research from UK Point of Sale found that 55% of shoppers were more likely to enter a Made in Britain window display.

Try it for a week and see how you get on.

Manufacturers can submit their company to be listed on the Bradshaw family’s website here.

@thomasmoore @BritishFamily