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Tesco, the British supermarket giant, is being accused of misleading its customers by introducing a new line of products, including fresh meat and produce, from rosy-sounding, locavore-targeting farms — none of which actually exist.
The grocery chain’s deceit came to light after Farmer’s Weekly, a British trade magazine, ran a spot check on a Tesco’s in Brixton and found that several products included the names of fake British farms. Among the dubiously named items were beef from Boswell Farms, whole chicken from Boswell Farms, apples and pears from Rosedene Farms, vegetables from Redmere Farms and Nightingale Farms, and imported fruit from Suntrail Farms.
Only one of these “farms” was found to sell 100 percent British goods — Boswell Farms, while the remainder offered a mixed selection of items from the U.K. and other countries, like Spain, Holland, the United States, Denmark, Germany, and Chile. All of these products are available exclusively at Tesco.
British farmers themselves were especially upset at the chain’s decision, calling the labeling deceitful and falsely reassuring. “What reality are they trying to hide behind a fictitious farm?” asked Jane Cooper, a sheep farmer.
In a statement, a Tesco spokesperson defended the company’s misleading labels as a reaction to competition from other British retailers with their own farm names, and suggested that the names were meant to be indicative of quality, not origin.
“We’ve named the brands after farms to represent the quality specifications that go into every product across the range,” a representative told Farmer’s Weekly. “All of our packaging clearly displays the country of origin on the front of pack to help customers make an informed decision on what they wish to buy.”