29 October 1999

Supermarket support for British goods, just a fad?

By Vicky Houchin

SUPERMARKETS claim to be rallying behind British farmers following the launch of a campaign to encourage clearer labelling of British produce. But a number producers are worried the new drive to "Buy British" may be nothing more than a passing fad.

A new "kite-mark" for British produce was jointly announced by NFU president Ben Gill and farm minister Nick Brown on Wednesday. The new logo for all primary produce will aim to harness strong consumer support for British food.

"Were giving [consumers] what they want," said Mr Gill at the launch. "Its a win for farmers because it will drive demand for British produce."

The decision for the brand followed the release of an NFU-commissioned report which found that consumers instinctively wanted British food but found country-of-origin labelling either inconsistent or difficult to find in supermarkets.

A spokeswoman from ASDA said the multiple was very supportive of British farmers and used point of sale material to encourage shoppers to buy British. In the wake of Frances refusal to accept British beef, the retailer has already switched to more British suppliers.

"Theres no reason why these new arrangements will not continue after the crisis is over," said an Asda spokeswoman.

But Tesco, Britains largest supermarket, said it was not running any Buy British campaign and had no plans to do so.

Budgens, which has been keen to publicise its dumping of French, declined to say whether it would return to buying French once the current crisis was over.

Somerfield also claims to have backed British farmers by buying more British food. But this action was not a tit for tat gesture, said a spokeswoman for the company. &#42