NFU Scotland yesterday gave its backing to the move taken by its English counterpart to lodge an official complaint with the National Trading Standards Institute over supermarkets’ use of “fake” farm names on some food products.
John Armour, NFU Scotland’s supply chain policy manager, said that the use of “fake” farm brands which cashed in on the goodwill which shoppers had for UK farmers could give customers a false idea about the provenance of the product.
He said: “Rightly our members are angry that these brands can mislead consumers in to thinking that they are supporting Scottish and British farmers when they might not be.”
Armour said the NFUS didn’t want to see the hard work of Scottish farmers being undermined by the use of names which seemed to imply they came from specific farms in the UK, saying: “We hope that Trading Standards take action and put an end to these practices.”
The English NFU, which asked Trading Standards to look into the legality of the practice, said the move followed members’ concerns that the use of farm name labels in this manner could be misleading for shoppers.
The union said that the most recent and high-profile example had been the introduction of brand names such as “Woodside Farms” and “Boswell Farms” by the Tesco chain.
A survey commissioned by the NFU showed at least three in five respondents who said these farm products in their view were “definitely” or “probably” British, would feel misled if this was not the case and were told the product could be from another country.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said he had spoken to senior management at supermarkets on the issue.
He said: “I urge all retailers to consider seriously the results of our survey which show that mixing imported product with British product under the same fictional farm name can be misleading to many of their customers. I am pleased Aldi has made a commitment to only source British product in their fictional farm brands by the end of March 2017.”
A Tesco spokesperson said the supermarket worked closely with the NFU and British farmers and growers.
“Our research shows customers really enjoy our new farms range with two-thirds buying from the range since its launch, and understand where the products come from, with the country of origin clearly labelled on pack.
“We source from the UK wherever possible, but also offer the best in-season produce from farms and growers around the world so shoppers can buy their favourite produce all year round.”