Asda has reignited the row over the use of “fake farm” brands after relaunching its entry level food range.

The embattled supermarket chain has reintroduced the Farm Stores branding it dropped in 2001 to replace its Smart Price own label goods, which will be phased out by 2018.

The Walmart-owned retailer has defended the move, insisting it is “reconnecting with our heritage” by bringing back the range. 

It comes almost a year after Tesco was criticised by UK farming organisations over its introduction of seven own label entry-level Farms brands, including Woodside Farms and Boswell Farms.

The new brands were launched across the fruit, vegetable and meat categories in a swipe at discount duo Aldi and Lidl.

‘MIsleading’ to shoppers

But critics claimed the names were “misleading” for shoppers as it led them to believe that all products in the range were sourced in the UK.

Despite the uproar, Tesco’s Farms brands proved crucial to its success as it posted a surge in full-year operating profit yesterday.

The supermarket giant said products in the Farms ranges were included in 64% of shoppers’ baskets in the year ending February 25.

Asda’s move has provoked a similar reaction from farmers.

NFU criticism

Ruth Mason, chief food chain adviser at the National Farmers Union, said: “Although such rebrands can drive an uplift in sales, in our view it is important that product names and descriptions are clear, accurate and do not mislead consumers.

“With Asda now using the term ‘farm’ within its branding, it is imperative that the origin of these products is clear to customers.”

An Asda spokeswoman said: “We know how important quality produce at a great price is to our customers.

“We’re reconnecting with our heritage by bringing back the Farm Stores brand to Asda – a name that our customers remember and trust for great value quality produce.”