Tesco vegetarian advert angers Ulster Farmers' Union
Retail giant Tesco has come under fire from the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) over an advertising campaign which promotes meat substitutes.
The UFU said the 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 and balanced diet.
In the advert a young girl is seen arriving home from school and telling her father: "Daddy, I don't want to eat animals anymore."
Looking at the camera, the father tells viewers: "I bloomin' love my meat. But not as much as I love my little girl."
He picks her up and swings her around the kitchen to a soundtrack of jangly acoustic guitar music, and it becomes apparent he is cooking vegetarian sausages. Holding a knife and fork he turns to the camera. "Just as tasty as it used to be," he says.
"Better actually," his daughter adds.
UFU president Ivor Ferguson said that while any person's diet is a personal choice, he believes that Tesco's advert devalues meat.
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He said: "I am disappointed that Tesco has used its 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 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.
"It appears that Tesco has not considered these facts but are helping to perpetuate a negative narrative about eating meat."
The UFU has written to Tesco, outlining its concerns about language used by the actors.
Mr Ferguson added: "The UFU respects personal decisions when it comes to individual diets. However, to single out and demonise an industry has the potential to do serious damage to our agriculture industry and the livelihood of our farming families."
Tesco said it aims to promote choice for customers.
The supermarket added: "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."