• NFU has formally complained to trading standards 
  • Tesco’s farm brands referenced in the complaint as being potentially misleading
  • NFU “pleased” that Aldi has committed to sourcing only British produce

A number of big supermarket chains, including Tesco, have been referred to trading standards for using “fake” British farm branding.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has formally complained to National Trading Standards, claiming that the use of fictitious brands to pass off produce as British, when it may actually have come from abroad, could be misleading.

It is calling on trading standards for clearer guidelines for supermarkets on the clarity of origin labelling.

The NFU gives Tesco’s Woodside Farms and Boswell Farms as examples of brands which it claims could make consumers believe they are buying UK-farmed produce.

Products branded under Tesco’s Woodside logo have been shown to come from countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark, while some Boswell-branded beef products have come from Ireland.

Brands from Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose have also been singled out by the NFU for investigation. 

‘Fictional farms’

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “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.

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

“I urge all retailers to consider seriously the results of our survey which show that mixing imported produce with British produce under the same fictional farm name can be misleading to many of their customers.”

The survey commissioned by the NFU found that three in five people, who said they believed products were “definitely” or “probably” British, admitted they would feel misled if they discovered that the product came from a country outside the UK.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We work closely with the NFU and British farmers and growers to ensure we offer affordable fresh produce to our customers.

”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.”

Raymond added: “I am pleased that Aldi has now made a commitment to only source British produce in their fictional farm brands by the end of March 2017.”