Leading supermarket chain SuperValu has confirmed it has ordered all stores in the Republic of Ireland to remove Israeli carrots from their shelves.
Despite insisting it has not enforced a boycott of goods from the country, an email instruction was sent to 232 stores last Friday saying the Chantenay variety must not be sold.
A spokeswoman for Supervalu in Northern Ireland said the withdrawal only applied to stores in the Republic of Ireland.
SuperValu in the Republic denied it was imposing a formal ban against Israeli goods in its shops.
In a statement, it said: “SuperValu is not involved in a boycott of Israeli produce and ultimately consumers will make their own purchasing decisions.
“We understand that this is an emotive issue. However, we have a policy of not taking a position on international affairs.”
The supermarket chain is one of more than 20 retailers written to by trade union Mandate seeking a boycott of Israeli goods and produce.
The campaign was launched last Friday as the death toll in Gaza reached almost 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
Claims of a boycott in SuperValu stores circulated after an instruction was sent to managers in all its retail outlets last Friday that the Chantenay carrots should be taken off the shelves and disposed of.
SuperValu, which is part of the Musgrave Group, confirmed that an internal instruction was sent to managers but today sought to clarify reports that it had imposed a boycott.
A spokesman said the company wanted to be 100% clear that there was no ban on the sourcing and sale of products from Israel.
Others retailers written to by the Mandate trade union over a proposed boycott include Marks & Spencer, Shaws, Tesco Ireland, Dunnes Stores, Penneys, Heatons, Debenhams, Boots, Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Arcadia Group, Aldi, Lidl, TK Maxx, BWG Foods, Smyths Toys, Londis Group, PC World and Lloyds Pharmacy.
The union famously stood by a group of Dunnes Stores workers in 1984 after they went on strike in support of Mary Manning, who was sacked after refusing to handle produce from apartheid South Africa.
Supervalu said its company policy is to source as much Irish produce as possible, and if not from domestic suppliers, then from as close to home as possible.
“75% of products in our stores are produced and sourced locally in our communities. However, due to the unpredictable climate in Ireland, there are occasions when we are required to source products from further afield in order to meet customer demand,” the company statement said.
“We prioritise supply from the UK and Europe when Irish product is not available. Very occasionally we source some products from Palestine and Israel when we cannot get sufficient supply from our main markets.
“We currently have sufficient stock from our usual supply market, with no goods ordered from Palestine and Israel at this time.”
Mandate is also promoting a petition on change.org urging people to show support for a campaign for retailers to boycott Israeli goods.
As of midday today 7,456 people have put their names to the petition, which calls on local shops not to trade with the country and accuses it of continuing to “flagrantly breach international law and commit war crimes against the Palestinian people”.
Mandate initially wrote to retailers seeking a boycott of Israeli goods produced in parts of Gaza or the West Bank but as the death toll increased in the last fortnight the union ramped up its campaign and called for the ban to be applied to all Israeli produce.
A spokesperson for Musgrave Retail Partners Northern Ireland said: “Musgrave Retail Partners NI, which operates the franchise for, and supplies, SuperValu, Centra, and Mace stores in Northern Ireland has only one product sourced from the Middle East in our catalogue – medjool dates.
“We are not withdrawing this product, nor are we planning to source any further products from the Middle East, in keeping with our policy of not adopting any political standpoints and leaving our customers free to make their own purchasing decisions.”