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In the News

Fake Farming - Tesco and Business Ethics

Jim Riley

20th July 2016

Fancy some beef mince from Boswell's Farms? How about some pork chops from Woodside Farms? No problem. You can get both from Tesco right now. The only problem - Boswell's Farms and Woodside Farms don't exist - they are fake farms.

For many consumers, the name on the package doesn't matter. For them, price is likely to be key. However, for an increasing number of consumers, the "provenance" of a product is an important factor in a purchase decision.

Might you be reassured to know that your beef mince comes from Boswell's Farm? The supplier sounds authentic. A real farm making premium beef mince. Perhaps that even makes it worth paying a little extra.

So imagine how you might feel when you discover that Boswell's Farms, Woodside Farm's and a host of other similar "sources" are just the figment of the marketing department's imagination.

That is the reason why the National Farmer's Union (NFU) has submitted a formal complaint to the National Trading Standards over the use of ‘fake’ farm branding by retailers on some food products.

The NFU claim that the use of fake farms and other similar brands confuses customers.

Tesco argues customers are well aware that it cannot possibly source all its products from individual farms, but that the use of fake brands emphasises the quality and freshness of the products concerned.

Is it ethical to arguably mislead consumers like this?

Or does it simply not matter, provided the beef mince and pork chops taste great?

Jim Riley

Jim co-founded tutor2u alongside his twin brother Geoff! Jim is a well-known Business writer and presenter as well as being one of the UK's leading educational technology entrepreneurs.

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