tesco farms

The National Farmers’ Union has lodged a formal complaint with Trading Standards over the use of ‘fake’ farm branding by retailers on some food products.

The complaint comes in the wake of the launch of Tesco’s Farms brands earlier this year, while the likes of Aldi and Lidl also carry similar brands that refer to fictional farms.

It follows concerns expressed by NFU members that the brands, such as Tesco’s seven new brands, including Suntrail Farms and Redmere Farms, plus Lidl’s Strathvale Farm and Aldi’s Ashfield Farm, were misleading to shoppers, particularly on the matter of provenance.

“The NFU’s legal team has looked at this carefully and as a result we are asking National Trading Standards to look at whether ‘fake’ farm branding complies with the relevant legal requirements,” said NFU president Meurig Raymond.

“I have spoken to senior management at Tesco to highlight our members’ concerns about the use of these fake farm brands.”

Raymond added that retailers should “consider seriously” the results of a recent poll of 1,800 consumers undertaken by YouGov for the NFU, which found three in five shoppers thought supermarket farm brands were ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ British, and would feel misled if they were told the products were often mixed with imported foods under the same brand name.

“These fake farm brands are completely unacceptable and we believe are misleading consumers. This practice has been going on across the retail sector for a long time and enough is enough,” added NFU Cymru president Stephen James.

Tesco defended its brands, and said the range had gone through all necessary checks with Trading Standards, while shopper feedback had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

The retailer added it sourced from the UK wherever possible, but also offered “the best in-season produce, from farms and growers around the world so shoppers can buy their favourite produce all year round”.

In an interview with The Grocer in March, Tesco’s UK & Ireland CEO Matt Davies described criticism over the honesty and provenance of its Farms brands as “rubbish”, and insisted the retailer was committed to sourcing wherever possible from the UK.

“We’ve been very clear that what we are launching is seven brands. The brands have farm names. The farm names are like any brands, they support the customer’s understanding,” Davies said. “One farm cannot support the breadth and volume of product Tesco sells. Customers understand it, colleagues understand, we are crystal clear about that.”