Supermarket Aldi has apologised after farmers accused it of misleading shoppers over the origin of its beef and turkey.
The retailer is now taking action to re-label a range of beef and turkey products after using the Scottish flag on items containing foreign meat.
NFU Scotland wrote to supermarket saying shoppers looking to support Scottish farmers were being misled into buying imported produce due to ineffective rules around product labelling.
It came after several farmers highlighted to NFU Scotland a range of cooked meat products currently available in Aldi supermarket stores.
The front of pack labels featured the Scottish Saltire flag, the thistle emblem, the words “produced in Scotland” and that the product was “made in the Scottish Borders”.
However, close examination of the small print on the rear of the packs shows that the beef and turkey comes from animals reared in the EU or South America.
NFU Scotland said using iconic Scottish images in this way was misleading.
Many consumers would have purchased these packs of meat in the firm belief they actually contained Scottish produce, said Wendy Fleming, NFU Scotland food chain relationships manager.
“Aldi has shown that, in sections of its offering to customers, it is an important supporter of Scottish food and farming and we welcome that support.
“However, NFU Scotland is hugely disappointed to have received reports of some cooked products on Aldi’s shelves taking advantage of iconic Scottish branding to mislead consumers.”
Rather than being products of Scottish origin, the meat originated from the EU and South America.
“Scottish consumers are likely to recognise and support the Saltire flag and the thistle emblem and be happy to read that something is produced in Scotland,” said Ms Fleming.
“Faced with such front-of-pack branding, they are unlikely to turn the product over.
“However, if they did, they could be in for a shock as the small print reveals that, while the product may have been manufactured here, the country of origin of the meat in the pack may be thousands of miles away.”
An Aldi spokesman apologised for the incident.
“While no labelling laws have been infringed, we recognise that use of the Scottish flag could suggest the products contain meat sourced and reared in Scotland.
“We are already undertaking to re-label the range as soon as possible.
“We felt it appropriate to include the Scottish flag at launch in 2010 as the two meats in question come through the Scottish supply chain and are processed for us in Kirkconnel.
“Our cooked meat range in Scotland also includes three premium Specially Selected products.
“These are all reared and processed in Scotland and come from the same site, supporting jobs in the community there.
“We never intended to mislead customers and apologise if this has caused any confusion.”