Farmers accuse Asda of misleading customers over 'Farm Stores' range

Britain’s largest retailer Tesco came under fire last year after the NFU lodged an official complaint over its use of fake farm names

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The Independent Online

Asda has been accused of misleading customers after re-launching its Farm Stores range - a label which some agricultural organisations say wrongly suggests that the produce is locally sourced.

The retailer has reintroduced the label on some of its fresh products after dropping it in 2001, but several organisations have panned the move, calling the name of the range deceiving. 

“Over the past few years we have seen retailers re-brand some of their own brand product ranges,” National Farmers’ Union (NFU) food chain adviser Ruth Madson said.

“Although such re-brands can drive an uplift in sales, in our view, it is important that product names and descriptions are clear, accurate and do not mislead consumers.  With Asda now using the term “farm” within its branding, it is imperative that the origin of these products is clear to customers,” she added.

Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett called the branding “misleading for consumers and insulting to farmers".

Mr Melchett said: "Many hard-pressed customers, trying to do their shopping in a hurry, are likely to be misled into thinking they're buying a product from a specific British farm when they are not.

"Many farmers work hard to build a reputation for producing quality food from their farm, and many people value the opportunity to buy food direct from a particular farmer, in the hope that the farmer is getting a fair return for their hard work. Marketing schemes that use fake farm names or other branding to imply products come straight from a farm abuse the concern that people have for British farmers. This is disgraceful.

"Asda and other retailers should instead focus on increasing the amount British food they stock."

A spokesperson for Asda said in a statement sent to the Independent: “We know how important quality produce at a great price is to our customers.

“We’re reconnecting with our heritage by bringing back the Farm Stores brand to Asda – a name that our customers remember and trust for great value, quality produce.”

It is not the first time that British farmers have accused retailers of using labelling that is misleading. 

Last year, Britain’s largest retailer Tesco and its seven made-up farm brands came under fire after the NFU  lodged an official complaint over its use of farm names.

 

Three in five people who said they believed such products were “definitely” or “probably” British, admitted that they would feel misled if they were informed that it came from overseas, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the NFU.

Tesco at the time defended the brands, saying its customers were well aware that the supermarket was so big it could not possibly source all its products from individual farms.

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