Angered Scots launch campaign to keep Saltires on food packaging

An online campaign rallying against the Union Flag replacing the saltire on Scottish produce has been launched.

Fed up supermarket customer Ruth Watson started the #KeepScotlandTheBrand campaign after repeatedly seeing Scottish products packaged under a Union flag.

Ruth’s social media page, ‘Aye, Have a Voice’, has grown a large following from other angered Scots who have been sharing their pictures showing the labelling.

She has complained to supermarkets about the branding, and has been told by one that they have changed the branding to “provide consistency for customers”.

Now she hopes supermarkets will reverse this re-branding which Ruth claims is damaging the reputation of Scottish producers.

Ruth from Kirriemuir, Angus, said: “I started the hashtag because it seemed like it was time for it. There is this creeping, insidious rebranding of everything to British.

“I have seen the number of conversations I have had with people about this re-branding of Scottish products the last few years increase.

“There are all of these voices crying out in the darkness. Let’s find an avenue for these voices so we can show supermarkets this is what Scottish people want.

“I then realised there was a real response to the movement when the Facebook page reaches quadrupled overnight.”

Brand awareness

And she insists that you do not have to be a supporter of Scottish independence to be against the branding.

She added: “I have spoken to supermarket managers who say that’s what they have been doing - they have been told to rebrand things as British.

“This is not a nationalist thing. This is about the British nationalist movement - it’s not me stomping my tartan foot for independence.

“The Scottish branding identity is worth millions to our economy - Scottish meat and lamb, for example, have a global cache.

“People abroad think of the clean water, and good quality produce, when they hear Scotland.

“If we move away from that Scottish brand identity, which we have spent decades building, then we will lose our footfall here.”

Union packs

Ruth pointed to fruit and veg stocked in Tesco which is branded with a Union flag but was made in Scotland.

The change in packaging, which Tesco introduced last year, caused quite a storm on social media at the time.

In one complaint to the supermarket giant, Ruth said: “Scotland’s brand is worth many millions of pounds to our economy.

“If our brand is subsumed into some generic ‘Britain’ and has a Union flag draped over it, our premium disappears.

Flagged up

“This is an outrageous initiative and seems to be a relatively recent move. Why not take all flags of the packaging? We did very well without them before.

“Many thousands of Scots do not want a Union flag on our produce, and many hundreds of Scottish businesses will have decades of hard work ruined if our identity becomes one homogeneous blur.

“It is important to Scotland’s farmers, Scotland’s fishing industry, Scotland’s textiles, Scotland’s tourism, that we #keepScotlandtheBrand.”

But Tesco replied to Ruth saying the packaging was “to provide consistency for customers, we mark all of our homegrown fresh berries with a Union flag.”

The customer care member added: “The country of origin is also clearly displayed on the pack.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are proudly Scottish agriculture’s biggest customer.

“We regularly use the Saltire flag on Scottish products, wherever possible - and make clear the farm, grower or country of origin.

“Disappointing”

“To maintain supply to our customers, we will sometimes stock British produce in our Scottish stores to avoid disappointing customers.”

Other products that Scottish people have taken offence to being branded as British include haggis, whisky and even the famous painting the Monarch of the Glen.

Rab Mackenzie posted a picture of Bell’s Whisky covered in red, white and blue labelling and warned: “Remember where your loyalties lie @BellsWhisky #scotref”

Sha Wield was angered by an English hotel laying claim to the stag at the centre of the world famous Monarch of the Glen painting.

She wrote: “Seriously, the attempt to appropriate Scotland’s identity is getting more extreme by the day #keepScotlandtheBrand”.

A product called The Great British Haggis drew the ire of Twitter user Kenjeraktoa who objected to Scotland’s national dish being branded with the Union Flag.

Identity crisis

Ruth said she is trying to support Scottish farmers to ensure the Scottish identity on their products is maintained.

She said: “I am supporting Scottish farmers with this hashtag because this is about the security of our future. This is about the food on our plates.

“It won’t take long for farmers to lose their market share if this continues.

“I am doing this because it’s the right thing to do. It’s about standing up for the future of our country and our economy depends on brand identity.”

Ken Stahly of Stahly Quality Foods stood behind the branding of their Great British Haggis.

He said: “Stahly Quality Foods has been a proudly Scottish, family run butcher since 1923.

“Our haggis is created to our own special recipe and is loved in Scotland and across the world.

“The newest addition to our haggis range is of course essentially Scottish (made in Scotland with Scottish ingredients) but with packaging that aims to broaden the appeal of our classic national dish.

“We’re confident this haggis will be enjoyed by new and existing customers alike.”

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