A CAMPAIGN has begun against the increasing number of Union flags that have replaced the Saltire on Scottish produce.

The #KeepScotlandtheBrand movement is growing after fed-up customer Ruth Watson began tweeting pictures of Scottish products in supermarkets packaged under a Union flag.

The response was immediate with many other angry customers sharing similar pictures on social media, although complaints to supermarkets have so far been answered with “bland” replies.

Now it is hoped awareness can be raised of the scale of the issue – and the damage it could cause to Scottish producers who have worked hard to build up a reputation for good quality.

“It’s not a negative campaign as it is about standing up for Scottish producers and Scottish brand identity as this affects the Scottish economy and jobs,” said Watson, from Kirrimuir.

“Scotland’s produce is globally recognised for high quality and is important to our economy.

‘‘Scottish farmers, the fishing industry, distillers, bakers, Tweed-makers, engineers, those involved in tourism, and many others, have spent decades ensuring the Scottish brand is synonymous with a high-quality, premium product. Our export market relies on our good name and strong brand identity.”

Watson said she hadn’t meant to start a campaign but first started posting pictures as an “expression of outrage”.

“It’s got worse since Brexit,” she said. “There seems to be a made-in-Britain push and we are now surrounded by a sea of Union flags in the supermarkets. I think it is ridiculous.

“This is not an independence issue for me – it’s an economic issue about a global brand. Scotland’s identity is synonymous with premium products.

“For Scottish producers, especially in the face of the insanity of Brexit, to lose their brand identity is going to hit them really hard.”

Watson pointed out that in the recent Japan and Canadian trade deals, the UK Government did not apply for special status for Scottish beef and lamb despite anger from producers.

“They should have been protecting the brand,” she said. “It’s a fundamental issue that is going to seriously affect Scottish producers. It is foolish for the Scottish brand to be subsumed by the UK brand which is toxic around the world. Scotland is not tainted in the same way.”

WATSON said every Scot could get involved in the campaign. “It’s not a boycott as there are lots of people in my position where there is only one shop in town. However I think the supermarkets will listen to their customers if there is enough public outcry.”

Watson said supermarkets that are promoting Scottish produce like Aldi and Lidl could be rewarded with pictures showing where supermarkets are getting it right.

“Competition between the supermarkets is fierce and consumers are in a powerful position,” she said. “If we support the supermarkets who support Scottish producers, those less supportive retailers may think again.”

Asda and Marks and Spencer said the complaints would be passed on to the “relevant teams”.

The Co-op Group said the reason for the Union flags was because products were sourced from different suppliers in the “regions” across the UK.

“The product isn’t always guaranteed to come from one country in particular,” said a spokesperson.

Morrisons and Tesco were unavailable for comment yesterday (Sunday).

Said Watson: “If you see a Scottish product with a Union flag on it, take a photo.

‘‘Share it online, explaining the importance of Scotland’s brand to the supermarket, retailer, or producer. This can be done through their Facebook page, @Twitter name, or # on Instagram, for example. Share your photos with captions using the hashtag #KeepScotlandTheBrand.

“Share any responses you receive. If you find supermarkets or retailers that are particularly good at highlighting Scottish brands, we suggest you tweet photos of these with Thank you @ ‘retailers name’ for #KeepingItScottish #KeepScotlandTheBrand.”