Business

Tesco 'fictional farms' may be misleading

Tesco farm label

Britain's farmers have said Tesco's fresh produce labelled with "fictional farm" brands may be misleading.

Despite the British sounding names, the "farms" do not exist and the produce is often sourced from abroad.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) says the labels may give customers a false idea of where the produce is sourced.

Tesco said in a statement: "We've named the brands after farms to represent the quality specifications that go into every product across the range."

New brands such as Rosedene Farms and Boswell Farms were launched on Monday to cover Tesco's own-label produce.

Phil Bicknell, the NFU's Head of Food and Farming said: "It is clear that Tesco have identified that customers have a positive affinity with farmers and want to capitalise on this.

"The key question to ask with this is, what are these brands trying to communicate? If this is not aligned with the origin sourcing and specification of the product we must ask if this is misleading to customers."

Tesco's statement added: "Every product is sourced from a selection of farms and growers - some are small, family-run farms while others are of a larger scale - reared or grown to our specific standards from known and audited farms and growers."

The new brands cover 76 new lines that will either match the price of competitors like Aldi or Lidl or beat them.

"Shocking!"

Tesco has been heavily criticised on social media with one tweet reading: "Shocking! Shoppers deserve to know where their food comes from. "

Tesco is not alone in using "fictional farms" to brand its products. Aldi has its own Ashfield Farm brand.

Marketing experts talked to by the BBC felt that Tesco was not being deliberately deceitful. Phil Dorrell from the retail consultancy Retail Remedy said: "I think they are being fairly upfront and honest that these are Tesco own-brands."

Professor David Hughes from Imperial College London, an expert on food marketing, speaking on Farming Today said: "I don't think it is particularly insidious.

"But particularly when it comes to fresh produce and fresh food, then from a consumer point of view if there's a farm name there, the understanding from a consumer perspective is that it reflects a true farm. That isn't the case. It seems misleading.

"I don't think it is done maliciously. It's probably a marketing mistake. Let's have transparent traceable supply chain. And, if there are farms there let's have a real farm name."

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