NFU calls for investigation into "fake farms" branding

The NFU has complained to National Trading Standards over the use of "fake farm" branding by retailers on some basic food products.

It says NFU members had expressed concerns that the use of "fake" farm labels can be misleading for shoppers - the most recent and high-profile example being Tesco's basic branding brought in in March.

Within the seven "farm brands", "Redmere Farms" is used for vegetables, "Rosedene Farms" for soft and top fruit, and "Nightingale Farms" for salad.

The NFU points to a YouGov survey it recently commissioned, which found at least three in five respondents said these farm products in their view were "definitely" or "probably" British, and would feel misled if this was not the case.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: "The NFU's legal team has looked at this carefully and as a result we are asking Trading Standards to look at whether 'fake' farm branding complies with the relevant legal requirements."

He added: "I have spoken to senior management at Tesco to highlight our members concerns, and 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 that Aldi has now made a commitment to only source British product in their fictional farm brands by the end of March 2017."

YouGov polled 1,796 adults online on 8-9 June 8/9 2016. It also found that round one in five respondents were unclear as to whether the "fake" farm brands were real farms, while three in ten were unsure about the provenance of products with such a brand.

The Soil Association has given its support to the NFU's complaint. Chief executive Helen Browning said: "Using fictional farm names to give shoppers a sense of provenance is deeply misleading and threatens to undermine trust in sales from genuine British farms at a time of great uncertainty and vulnerability for all UK farmers." 

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