How Red Tractor’s new standards will advance British food and farming

Author: Jim Moseley, Red Tractor chief executive

Following the biggest ever consultation of Red Tractor’s standards, I’m pleased to outline how we are advancing Britain’s largest food and farming scheme.

We routinely review our standards every three to four years across all sectors, making sure our members are farming to meet the evolving expectations of shoppers and market requirements, as simply as possible. However, this year’s consultation made history as we opened the process to our 46,000 farmer members.

Our standards need to achieve two key objectives – first to meet the needs of consumers who expect high standards but shop keenly on price, and second to provide farmers and the supply chain with manageable standards. Getting that balance right then also satisfies the needs of food businesses and government.

Proposals were put before the food and farming industry, developed over a 12-month period and drawn up with input at every stage of the process from all key stakeholders of the scheme – farmers and farming unions and associations, vets, academics, processors and retailers.

“We set out to hear from and to engage as much of the farming community as possible, and I’m delighted by the amount of feedback was generated by the review.”

This has been enormously helpful for informing the work to reconcile the new version of the standards, with more than 3,000 pieces of feedback were received from across the industry.

To make sure that the consultation as broad as possible, we hosted countless meetings and took written questions, emails and phone calls, with a total of 743 responses to our survey on the standards.

The industry spoke and we listened

Every single response was taken seriously. We reviewed the each piece of feedback, assigned it to relevant standards and fed this into the committee review process for consensus. I’m proud of our rigorous three-staged process, which adheres to the gold standard recommendations of the British Standards Institute.

With its structures of sector boards and technical committees, and through the comprehensive feedback of the consultation, Red Tractor is in a fortunate position to achieve a crucial balance that benefits the UK food supply chain.

You can find out more about these and the many dedicated people who work with Red Tractor on our website.

These latest our standards – the fifth version in Red Tractor’s 21-year history – have now been agreed and will come into effect from 1 November 2021. This follows the consensus of each of the technical advisory committees, sector boards and the standards committee, and a final seal of approval from the main Red Tractor board.

We are confident that these are the right standards to take British farming forward, helping our members keep up with the evolving expectations of consumers and market requirements as simply as possible, securing maximum market access for minimal audit burden. 

Here’s to a secure and sustainable future for British food and farming. 

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