SCOTS overwhelmingly prefer seeing a Saltire on Scottish produce over a Union Jack, an exclusive new poll for The National has revealed.

In a blow to Union Jackery, which plagues Scottish products denied the Saltire in place of the flag of the United Kingdom, 71% of Scots said they preferred to see the St Andrew’s Cross on food and drink from Scotland over a Union flag.

The National has long reported on instances where the Saltire has been snubbed on food and drink packaging for the Union Jack – and the damage this can do to Scotland’s reputation as a producer of quality grub.

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Polling carried out for this paper by Find Out Now found just 16% of Scots preferred to see a Union Jack on Scottish produce – 4% said they would prefer not to say and 9% said “don’t know”.

The National:

The results held true across almost all sections of society, with all age groups preferring the Saltire by comfortable margins and in every geographical region of Scotland.

The question even crossed political divides, subsamples suggested. A plurality of Tory voters said they preferred to see a Saltire (49%) versus just 37% who said they would like to see a Union Jack on Scottish produce.

Labour voters preferred to see a Saltire with 71% backing that option. SNP voters were most supportive of Scottish branding with 94% saying they would like to see Saltires on Scottish food and drink.

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Some 61% of LibDem voters said they would prefer to see a St Andrew’s Cross on Scottish food and drink while only 17% said they would prefer to see a Union flag.

'Even Tories disgusted by Union Jackery'

Ruth Watson (below), the founder of campaign group Keep Scotland the Brand – which aims to maintain the integrity of the Scottish brand on produce, said supermarkets may be shooting themselves in the foot with “Union Jackery” practices.

She told The National: “Research repeatedly shows Scotland’s name is good for business.

“This latest poll shows that the significant majority of people would prefer to see clear Scottish provenance on our food and drink.”

The National:

Watson said she had met a Conservative-backing farmer who was disgusted with the way her Scottish produce had been Jackified.

She added: “I have been all over the country speaking to people of all backgrounds and political perspectives about this issue over the years and it is widely recognised that Scotland’s name is an important selling point both at home and overseas.

“I’ve had a Tory farmer tell me she has turned around and walked out of the supermarket in disgust when she saw the way her produce was packaged in Union flags, her farm’s location removed, wiping away the years of hard work she and others in the area had put into building up their reputation and market loyalty.

“While food packaging is reserved to the UK Government, I hope businesses and the sector will look again at what they can do to put clear and honest labels on Scotland’s food and drink.”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, deputy head of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said Saltires were primarily used when marketing to a Scottish market and noted retailers had shown “long-held and considerable support for Scottish producers and farmers”.

He said: “Retailers buy billions of pounds of Scottish produce each year, to sell in Scotland, the UK, and other markets. Where product lines are aimed at a purely Scottish market retailers will often choose to use saltires or similar markings.

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“However, in many cases these products are aimed at a wider market and therefore UK markings are used.

“Decisions on labelling are driven by regulatory compliance, cost, and the importance to consumers.

“Retailers will ultimately judge whether the benefits of Scottish-specific labelling outweigh those other factors.

“However, none of that will impact on retailers’ long-held and considerable support for Scottish producers and farmers.”

In a notable example of Union Jackery, retail giant Marks and Spencer came under fire in 2020 for slapping a Union flag on a haggis, neeps and tatties ready meal.

And in 2019, we revealed that Tesco branded strawberries as “British”, complete with a Union flag on the packaging, while blueberries carried a Saltire on their packaging in the same delivery to one disgruntled National reader – despite both products coming from Scottish farms.

The poll was conducted from January 11 to 18 and saw a nationally representative sample of 1094 Scottish adults interviewed.