A ROW has erupted over Scottish shortbread from one of the country's biggest exporters being sold abroad with a Union Flag branding.

Moray-based Walkers, the producer of oatcakes, cakes and biscuits, which sells products in over 60 countries, has begun receiving complaints after some discovered it had switched from a Saltire to a the UK flag in some exports of shortbread abroad.

The shortbread comes in a Union Flag tin with a splash of tartan on the Walkers' label. The shortbread has also been shaped into a Union Flag.

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The new debate over how Scottish products are marketed abroad was sparked by a Facebook post about Walkers from Alison Brown from Dundee that has gone viral and been shared more than 900 times and provoked over 300 comments in less than a day.

HeraldScotland:

She said: "It breaks my heart! This is how Walkers are marketing our famous Scottish shortbread in Germany! Our hard won Scottish branding is being systematically destroyed! For what? To protect their Union! I feel so sad and angry.

"What makes me so angry is that Scottish unionists think this is just totally fine. Destroying our Scottish brand is not acceptable.

"The Germans would be happy (happier?) to buy tins with Saltires."

Some have taken complained to Walkers through their Facebook page, with one Rory Winter describing the firm as "traitors to Scotland".

HeraldScotland:

Susan Taylor said: Union Jacks on our shortbread tins....... No thank you. Disappointed to say the least. We will not be purchasing any more Walkers products...."

Ted Christopher added: "Just to let you know you've just lost another regular customer due to your Union Jack branding."

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And Brian Leask said: "This picture is being shared all over Facebook and wow you should read the comments from proud Scottish people who are disgusted that you are now selling out your Scottish roots and heritage and just what made your shortbread famous in the first place for the British Unionist populace and abroad."

But others leapt to Walkers's defence. Wullie Shields posted a picture of the Union Flag and remarked: "Scotland in Union, keep up the good work Walkers Shortbread."

HeraldScotland:

And Darren Storey added: A great British product! Does both Scotland and the UK proud."

Casper Cassidy added: "So sad to see these comments.. Walkers are a great shortbread brand. It doesn't taste any different because it has the British flag on the tin. The Scottish flag is incorporated in that flag.

"Walkers are entitled to make money and if they do this by using the British flag on the tin in Germany then so be it."

It is not just Walkers that have come up for flak for flying the British rather than the Scottish flag abroad.

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Two years ago protesters descended on Scotland's most famous confectionary firm, Tunnock's following reports that the biscuit maker had added the Union Flag to branding for its exported products.

Other products that some have taken offence having a British branding include haggis, whisky and even the famous painting the Monarch of the Glen.

HeraldScotland:

Marks and Spencer has presented Scottish Shortbread in what looks like a London bus tin with a Union Flag lid.

The shortbread maker, which has factories in Aberlour on Speyside and Elgin is one of Scotland’s biggest exporters of branded foods. It was founded in 1898 and is still run by the Walker family.

HeraldScotland:

In October a campaign was started to protest against the increasing number of Union flags that have replaced the Saltire on Scottish produce.

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

Walkers said: "The Walker family would like to clarify that the Union Jack Keepsake tin is one of many tins currently available each of which is designed to celebrate an array of places and occasions and includes the launch of the Love Scotland Keepsake range at the start of the year.  

"We strive continuously to offer a wide range of products to suit our global customer base."

A company spokesman added: "Walkers is a family company which has established in the Highlands of Scotland for 120 years.

"We take great pride in our Scottish heritage and we work closely within our community as a key employer for our area, Speyside.

"We have a dedicated and loyal workforce of long term employees and the family values of the company come from generations of family ownership.

"One of our key business principles is maintaining our manufacturing in Scotland for the long run and th is is what we as a business and family strive for."