A TESCO customer who complained to the company over the use of the Union Flag on Scottish produce was told that Tesco did so because it “unifies the different regions within the UK, Scotland, England and Wales.”

Colin Armstrong from Ayrshire contacted The National because for months we have been running our Save Our Scotland Brand campaign which highlights the need to protect Scottish branding of products.

Armstrong wrote to Tesco saying: “For a considerable period of time now I and my family have become increasingly frustrated at the use of the Union flag on products you’ve been selling in Scotland and in particular in our local Tesco store in Auchinleck East Ayrshire.

“We have noticed that this flag has been appearing on what were formerly marketed as Scottish products and this ranges from soft fruits , chicken, ice cream, vegetables and meat etc.

While it might not be appreciated in England that this flag has overtly political connotations in Scotland I would like point out that it does and that its use is undermining the importance of the Scottish brand and is offensive to a sizeable proportion of the Scottish consumers that Tesco is supposed to serve.

“I can’t understand why Scots have been subjected to this onslaught of Britishness being imposed upon us and can only assume that some directive has been issued from on high to ensure that this is the case.

“As such there has been a growing movement to boycott products plastered with the Union Jack and judging by the reduced to sell items on display in your stores this has at least anecdotally been quite successful.

“I know that Tesco is an English company but some sensitivity directed towards your Scots customers would be appreciated. I and many like me will never buy a product that has the Union Jack on it.

Armstrong received a reply from Kieran Flood, a customer services manager with Tesco. He wrote: “I appreciate that you have strong views based on the use of the Union Jack and the Saltire. However there are some things that I would like to point out as a fellow Scotsman.

“As you know, Tesco is one of the biggest retailers in the UK. We make sure that all products are respected as it should be.

“We had used the Union jack on products because it unifies the different regions within the UK. Scotland, England and Wales. It was decided to do this based on the history of the UK as a whole and everything we have been through together as for the time being, we are still one country.

“We felt that this was a better decision instead of separating each country of origin. There is no political agenda or meaning on the use of any products packaging.

“Of course customers are more than free to chose who they shop with at any point, but as a whole, we would hope that it would be down to personal experiences at Tesco that each person has experienced individually.

“I’ve been able to pass your feedback onto our head office for further consideration so that they can consider changes in future products.

Armstrong commented: “They confirmed that it was policy but not political. If you read it, it sounds overtly political to me. I have no problem with the St George’s Cross or Welsh Dragon on products for sale but can’t stand the fact that Scottish products and the Scottish brand are being undermined by Tesco and other supermarkets. I want to buy locally and support Scottish producers which is not a bad thing.”

Armstrong added: “Tell our families and friends, share on social media. The power of opinion and the financial consequences are the weapons we have. Let’s protect the Scottish brand. The supermarkets have the producers over a barrel but we can protect them.”

Saying that the reply to Armstrong had been sent “in error”, a Tesco spokesman said: “We are extremely proud to serve our customers with products from across Scotland. There has been no recent change to how we use the Saltire to celebrate Scottish food and drink.”