morrisons fake farm brands

Morrisons has promised shoppers that it will not sell fake farm own brands, reigniting a row over the use of the ranges at rivals including Tesco and Asda.

The supermarket chain has focused much of its marketing strategy around the relationship it has with suppliers and the strength of its supply chain. And tomorrow (10 August), it will host hundreds of real farmers in its stores who will be selling British food to customers.

As part of the strategy, Morrisons is banning fake farm brands. It says the own-label ranges are misleading because they “give an impression that food comes from a British farm, market or town when it may in fact be imported from overseas”. And it claims consumers agree, citing its own research which found that 70% of UK adults object to the use of fake farms and only want real place or farm names used on packaging.

Joe Mannion head of British Livestock at Morrisons, says: “Supermarket customers are sometimes presented with misleading images of farmers on their food and we believe that by meeting our real farmers, customers will see and value that we know where our food comes from.”

Morrisons’ move comes after both Asda and Tesco introduced own brand ranges named after fake farms. Asda reintroduced the Farm Stores branding it dropped in 2001 earlier this year to replace its Smart Price own label, which will be phased out by the end of next year.

Tesco, meanwhile, introduced seven new Farm brands, including Woodside Farms and Boswell Farms, in the meat, fruit and vegetable categories last year as an entry-level option in its own label range.

READ MORE: Mark Ritson: Tesco’s ‘fake farms’ are a real headache for its own-label strategy

The brands have proved controversial, with the National Farmers Union criticising the supermarket for using them as a marketing trick that could mislead consumers over where the food is from. Trading Standards also launched an investigation.

Nevertheless, they have been successful at driving sales. Kantar Worldpanel data estimates that Farm brands found their way into a quarter of Tesco baskets in the quarter after launch, helping to drive a sales rise. And CEO Dave Lewis has defended the marketing tactic, saying customers “absolutely get it”.