The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has been contacted by a number of members expressing concern regarding a new Tesco advertisement.
The Union has claimed that the TV advert demonises meat as a food group and undermines scientifically supported public health messages which show that eating red meat is vital to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
UFU president Ivor Ferguson said:“I am disappointed that Tesco has used their commercial power to spread a negative message around meat consumption, ultimately influencing their consumers to reconsider or stop eating meat altogether. Tesco is one of the largest retailers in the UK and stockists of Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured (NIFQA) red meat, and yet this advert has potentially undermined the UK’s livestock industry.
“There is scientific evidence that proves the consumption of meat is vital to ensure a healthy balanced diet as it contains numerous minerals and protein that our bodies need. Not to mention our produce is farmed to some of the highest environmental and animal welfare standards in the world so that consumers can enjoy quality food without worrying about what it contains or where it came from.”
“It appears that Tesco has not considered these facts but unfortunately are helping to perpetuate a negative narrative about eating meat.” The UFU has written to Tesco, outlining concerns about the advert in which a child states: “I don’t want to eat animals anymore.” Meanwhile, the father is preparing a casserole using ‘meat-free’ Cumberland sausages and they agree that the meat substitute tastes just as good as meat if not “better”.
Ferguson continued: “We have serious concerns about the language used in the advert which has wrongly isolated meat as a food group. Food and nutrition must be looked at as a whole. Meat is just as important to our daily diets as fruit and vegetables so why has Tesco chosen to dismiss and devalue the importance of it?
He concluded: “The UFU respects personal decisions when it comes to individual diets. However, to single out and demonise an industry through one of the most powerful forms of media broadcast, has the potential to do serious damage to our agriculture industry and the livelihood of our farming families. Labelling all meat as ‘bad’ doesn’t help consumers. We want to work with Tesco and other retailers to ensure consumers get the facts and can make informed choices about their nutrition and diet.”
In response, A Tesco spokesperson said: “Our Food Love Stories celebrate recipes both with meat and without. For those customers who tell us they are looking to eat a little less meat, our Plant Chef range offers a delicious, affordable alternative. Our aim is always to offer choice. We remain absolutely committed to working in partnership with all our UK farmers, and we value the vital role they play in providing food for our customers.”