The NFU has formally complained to the National Trading Standards Institute over the use of ‘fake’ farm branding by retailers on food.
It is calling for clear guidelines on country of origin labelling and an investigation into whether brands like Tesco’s ‘Woodside Farms’ and ‘Boswell Farms’ are legal.
At least three in five respondents to a YouGov survey commissioned by the NFU who said these products were ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ British, would feel misled if they were told it could be from another country.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “The NFU’s legal team has looked at this carefully and as a result we’re asking Trading Standards Institute to look at whether ‘fake’ farm branding complies with the relevant legal requirements.
"I’ve 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 product with British product under the same fictional farm name can be misleading to many of their customers.
"I’m pleased that Aldi has now made a commitment to only source British product in their fictional farm brands by the end of March 2017.
“The NFU would be delighted to work with retailers to ensure that customers are given clear and unambiguous information about where their food comes from.”
NFU Cymru president Stephen James, speaking at the Royal Welsh Show, said: “These fake farm brands are completely unacceptable and we believe are misleading consumers.
"This practice has been going on across the retail sector for a long time and enough is enough. In particular, NFU members feel the brands confuse shoppers about the country of origin.
“Country of origin labelling is important because we know from consumer surveys that shoppers want to buy British food products.
"Clearly, consumers cannot exercise that choice without clear country of origin labelling. That’s why we have now written to Trading Standards to argue our point and to ask for clear guidelines.”
Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning agreed using fictional farm names to give shoppers a sense of provenance was ’deeply misleading’.
"People increasingly want to know where our food comes from, and want honesty and authenticity, not deceptive veneers," she said.
"Branding that uses fictitious farms threatens to undermine trust in sales from genuine British farms at a time of great uncertainty and vulnerability for all UK farmers.”