Tesco has been criticised for launching a new range of meat and fresh produce using a series of fictional farm names, including Boswell Farms’ beef steaks and Woodside Farms’ sausage.
The retailer says that although the farm names (there are seven in total) are not real, all the vegetables, fruit, salad, pork, chicken and beef sold in the range are still from “known farms”.
It says the products were designed to be distinct brand names and part of a plan to simplify its food ranges.
Using fictional farm names is not unusual.
Aldi do it too with its Ashfield Farm brand ["Ashfield Farm is one of our registered trademarks… not relating to one particular farm", said a spokesperson for Aldi].
But it is a policy that has been criticised for misleading consumers about the provenance of produce - especially as Tesco has used a series of British-sounding names including Boswell, Woodside and Willow.
"Our concern is that customers could assume it comes from a British farm, but we’ve been by Tesco told that some of the produce could be imported," said Ruth Mason, chief food chain advisor at the National Farmers Union.
"The names give a nice, good feeling about the Tesco brand but they need to make sure the country of origin labelling is crystal clear."
Retail commentators expressed surprise at Tesco’s move, saying it went against the continuing desire for provenance from consumers. “Shoppers aren’t stupid, and to launch a new range built on a virtual reality seems to go against the trend for transparency that we are coming to expect,” said Nina Pullman, from Fresh Produce Journal.