NFU says “fictitious” farm name branding is potentially misleading

Tesco’s rebranding of some of its food lines with the names of fictitious farms has been criticised by the National Farmers Union (NFU) as having the potential to confuse or even mislead customers.

The union’s complaint follows the launch on Monday this week of new brand names such as Redmere Farms for vegetables and Boswell Farms for beef. Despite the image being portrayed, however, these aren’t real farms.

“Time will tell how shoppers react, but I can’t help thinking that a fabricated brand that implies a degree of provenance could be viewed by some as misleading,” said the NFU’s head of food and farming, Phil Bicknell, commenting via a staff blog on the union’s website.

“In order for customers to not be misled by this new branding it is vital that Tesco ensure that the origin, which is varied across the products, is extremely clear to customers. This should include flags and large Red Tractor logos.”

Mr Bicknell (pictured above) also pointed out that Tesco is not the only retailer to have launched such brands.

“Morrison’s use the ‘Market Deals’ brand to sell new Zealand lamb legs on promotion and both Aldi and Lidl use farm names within their branding,” he said. “The key question to ask with this is, what are these brand’s 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.

“We strongly believe a provenance message is within Tesco’s grasp. They have a sustainable approach to working with fresh milk suppliers, which they have extended to cheese. They are also trialling direct sourcing contracts in the lamb sector.

“I’m sure the country’s biggest retailer has the ability to fast track this and work with farmers across a number of products to further develop long term relationships and use the genuine provenance that British farmers can offer. But have they the will to make it happen?”

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