Tesco causes fury by selling imported lamb under Scottish banner
Published:  11 September, 2015

Supermarket giant Tesco has been accused of delivering Scottish sheep farmers "a slap in the face" by selling imported lamb underneath a banner proclaiming to support Scottish sheep farmers. 

NFU Scotland has discovered shelves full of imported New Zealand lamb, all sitting under a banner which claimed it to be ‘The Best Scottish Lamb in Season’ at the Tesco Extra store at Hermiston Gait near Edinburgh.

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “The deep felt anger being directed towards Tesco over this debacle is wholly justified. This is totally unacceptable. Scotland’s sheep farmers and our consumers deserve much, much better than this.

“First and foremost, why is Tesco still promoting imported lamb in shelf-filling quantities when this is peak season for Scottish and UK supplies?  This makes its well-publicised pledges of support for Scottish and UK farmers appear wafer thin.

“Secondly, this kind of point of sale abuse of the ‘Scottish’ brand makes Scottish farmers’ blood boil.  It is difficult to put into words just how angry hard-working sheep farmers feel when they spot some excellent promotion of Scottish lamb in a Tesco store only to find the shelves below are filled with imported product.”

He added that this situation would lead to shoppers mistakenly buying the lamb believing it was Scottish.

“Consumers looking to support Scottish farmers and buy Scottish lamb would see this point of sale material, pick up a pack of lamb often without realising that it does nothing to support our sheep sector here in Scotland.”

The NFU has contacted Tesco demanding it addresses the situation by checking point of sale information is accurate at all its Scottish stores and to live up to its pledges by immediately increasing its commitment to buying home-produced lamb.

“By way of a response, we will not be fobbed off by Tesco telling us that this is a one-off or that it was simply human error because we have had that excuse before.

“The UK’s biggest retailer must do better. It must urgently review all of its signage in Scottish stores and ensure that where it proudly proclaims to be offering ‘The Best Scottish Lamb in Season’, then that is what is on the shelf. 

“Tesco’s support for Scottish lamb in what has been a very difficult season is crucial and it is clear that there remains considerable scope for improvement.”

Responding to the accusations, Tesco said it has a great track record of supporting Scotch lamb and that in store signage makes no claim that it only sells Scotch lamb.

A spokesperson said: 

“We recognise the quality of Scotch lamb and we are proud to be its biggest customer, and we sell more Scotch lamb than any other retailer.

“All of our lamb counters are 100% Scotch lamb all year round and our Tesco Finest lamb is also Scotch. Our pre packed lamb, which currently is predominantly Scotch, is clearly labelled with the country of origin to allow our customers to simply identify Scotch products as part of their shopping choices.

“As a long-standing champion of Scottish agriculture, we are supporting Quality Meat Scotland with their ‘Wham Bam Thank You Lamb’ tour, which is visiting 30 Tesco stores across country, to showcase and offer customers the opportunity to sample Scotch lamb. Furthermore, another 15 Scottish Tesco stores are showcasing Scotch lamb as part of our ‘Love Local’ campaign. “