The new Waitrose supermarket on the outskirts of North Walsham in North Norfolk has opened for business with no Cromer crabs being offered for sale in the store. Shoppers will only be able to purchase crabs that were caught over 400 miles away in Cornwall.

Adverse comment about this has spread throughout a community where the local fishing industry has the full support of the locals. The Cromer product is also considered far superior to that from Cornwall. In addition, it doesn’t make sense from an environmental standpoint.

On the Waitrose website it states: “Our buyers seek out the finest local and regional products our country has to offer. Working in partnership with small producers, Waitrose helps boost the economy in many rural areas and its customers get to sample the very best foods made locally.”

To be fair to Waitrose – one of the most responsible supermarkets – it did add Cromer caught dressed crab to its range back in 1992. This current state of affairs is a direct result of the recent closure of the Cromer Crab Factory by Young’s Seafoods.

The manager at the new branch, Ashley Broad, explained: “Unfortunately we have not been able to find another company in the area that can cook and prepare Cromer crab to the technical standards that we require. However we remain extremely keen to offer what is a fantastic product to our customers again in the future and would encourage any interested parties to get in touch with us.”

Technical standards? What do they do to it? Crabs only need to be boiled and dressed. It is impossible to understand why a product that has been caught, cooked, dressed and sold in Cromer for longer than anyone can remember cannot be presented for sale on a supermarket fish counter.

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