Tesco is facing legal threats for allegedly misleading customers for using the name of a genuine farm that have no association with to use on the packaging of their own-brand, budget meat products.
The news comes as food charity Feedback urges Aldi, Asda, Lidl and Tesco to stop using controversial “fake farm” branding on own-brand meat products, saying it misleads shoppers.
The charity has also thrown its support behind Woodside Farm, which is threatening legal proceedings if Tesco does not drop the same “fake farm” name on its value pork range.
“Let’s be clear – supermarkets are selling meat under fake farm names, deliberately encouraging consumers to believe that the meat is sourced from small-scale producers,” Feedback’s campaign director Jessica Sinclair Taylor told the Guardian.
“We believe this is peddling a load of bull.”
Tesco first sparked controversy over a budget range of seven own-label “farm” brands in March last year.
The labels, including Woodside Farms, were created based on British-sounding but fictitious names.
However, some of the prodocts under those labels were imported from overseas.
Since then, Asda has also attracted controversy after it relaunched its value Smart Price food range as Farm Stores while Aldi replaced its Wood Farm brand with Nature’s Pick and Lidl launched a “Birchwood Farm” meat range.
The real Woodside Farm, based in Nottinghamshire, told the Guardian that their customers have been confused as to why Tesco was using their farm name.
“We’ve been raising pigs at Woodside Farm for 20 years – this is our livelihood,” farmer Richard Baugh told the Guardian.
“When it first came out customers were asking all the time whether we were supplying Tesco.
“We don’t, our pork is free-range and we think it’s higher welfare and quality than the pork they’re selling, and we’re proud of that.”
Feedback is working to reform the UK’s “broken” food system and has awarded Tesco its “Total Bull” award for the number of fake farm labels it uses.
The charity is also urging shoppers to write to grocery retailer to drop the branding.
The National Farmers’ Union and the Soil Association have also condemned fake farm brands.
Tesco told the Guardian that it was aware of the threat of legal action but declined to comment.