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Vice President's Blog - 4 June 2020

There is a version of the cynical line, often attributed to Groucho Marx, which goes ‘Fairness and honesty are the key to success – once you can fake that, you’ve got it made’.

Hopefully that approach is not commonplace but unfortunately it does exist writes Vice President Charlie Adam.

In politics, the extent to which certain individuals or groupings are prepared to spin to serve their own ends has been painfully apparent in recent weeks in the political response to a certain government adviser’s activity. Such behaviour must be extremely embarrassing for the many genuine MPs who really do want to represent the interests of their constituents, some of whom have suffered and sacrificed a great deal under Covid-19 restrictions.

In business, the behaviour of some of our largest retailers is little better on some occasions. While purporting to act in the interests of the customer at all times, they take full advantage of shortcomings in requirements on product labelling and advertising to make it difficult for the shopper see all key information and make an informed buying choice .



In both cases, the brass neck with which the perpetrators claim to be helping citizens or customers rather than themselves while apparently setting out to mislead sometimes defies belief, yet they often get away with it!

Sadly we are unlikely to change some of the more extreme and infuriating behaviours of politicians and certain retailers alike, but at a more practical level the UK’s departure from the EU does present us with a golden opportunity to set our own standard on labelling for all foods, whether home grown or imported, so that consumers know exactly what they are buying. This will require politicians across the board to agree to legislative changes.

A fundamental of Country of Origin Labelling must be that it should be clear where a product was grown or reared as well as where it was processed and packed. Further, no shopper carries a list of code numbers, so countries and locations should be named.

It is important too that there is a requirement for key information to be prominent on the label and not hidden in the small print somewhere. All too often, under current rules, this is not the case and it is difficult to believe this is not sometimes done knowingly.

the AHDB/YouGov survey reported on in the P & J last week found that only half of the people surveyed would look for British over imported food post Coronavirus, and while we recognise that people are free to make their choices, whether for environmental, health or economic reasons, we as an industry will be doing everything we can to present facts which convince more of them of the merits of our locally grown, high quality produce.

Scottish farmers invest a great deal of time, effort and money in producing food to the highest standards and frankly it is an insult to us and a disservice to our customers - the public - if our good work is unfairly undermined by poor or deliberately confusing labelling at the point of sale.

It's not as witty as Groucho’s line, but across the whole supply chain I’ll settle for ‘Fairness and honesty are the key to success’, period.

Unfortunately, we may have to wait rather longer before we see that across the board!

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