Business

Morrisons will not adopt 'fake-farm food' brands

Morrisons store interior Image copyright Getty Images

Supermarket group Morrisons has pledged not to sell own-label "fake-farm" food.

It defines this as brands that can give a misleading impression that food comes from a British farm, market or farming town which may not even exist.

It said a meat brand it had created called Hemsley was a play on the name of the sound-a-like North Yorkshire farming town, Helmsley.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) is unhappy about fake-brands, particularly when it implies the food is British.

Image caption Fruit and veg from Tesco's "Redmere" and "Rosedene" farm brands may not actually have been grown on them

The NFU's deputy president, Minette Batters, said: "In our view it is important that product names and descriptions on packaging are clear, accurate and do not mislead consumers.

"We would always encourage shoppers to look out for the Red Tractor logo to ensure the food is produced to the highest welfare standards, and can be traced back to a British farm."

A number of big supermarkets, including Morrisons, have come under fire for using farm-like labels for some of their produce.

The issue came to a head in 2016, when market leader Tesco created a range of brand names for its own produce, including Rosedene Farm and Boswell Farms.

At the time, Tesco told the BBC that some of these were indeed fresh produce suppliers but conceded that not all the items sold under those brand names came from those farms.

It told the BBC this was not misleading to customers, since they understood Tesco was a large organisation which could not stock its stores from one farm.

Poultry in motion

The Hemsley brand, which Morrisons dropped last year, had been criticised by the NFU.

The union said that Hemsley used poultry imported from abroad, which was produced to less exacting welfare standards than those met by British suppliers.

Morrisons said on Wednesday that 70% of UK adults it polled in a survey objected to the use of fake farm brands.

Instead, consumers wanted products to use real place names on packaging and branding.

A Morrisons spokesman said that its pledge not to use fake farm names would not apply to the third-party brands it stocks.

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