Christine Tacon CBE has been appointed Chair of Assured Food Standards who operate the Red Tractor Assurance scheme. The former Groceries Code Adjudicator takes up the role on the 1st January 2021, replacing Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe, whose term ended last month. Ms Tacon joins Red Tractor with decades of experience as a leader and advocate for the British food and farming industry and with an extensive background in change management, regulation and the food chain.

(more…)

The chair of Red Tractor, Baroness (Lucy) Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, has announced that she will leave the organisation at the end of her 3-year term on 12 November 2020.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe commented:

‘I have much enjoyed my time at Red Tractor and I believe it has made much progress over the last 3 years in achieving wider recognition of its certified standards covering food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection. Its standards are leaders in the field internationally and together we have improved the rules and ensured better compliance.  We have also successfully navigated COVID.

I have always believed and made clear that upholding strong agricultural and food standards is in the best interests of British consumers, farmers and manufacturers. Recent comments suggesting I do not take that view  are wrong and have only gained credence by ignoring clear statements by me to the contrary.

In my view UK agricultural and food standards will be even more important post-Brexit. Over time I am sure standards will, rightly, become more rigorous.

I warmly thank Vice-Chairman Andrew Blenkiron and the rest of the Board and CEO Jim Moseley and all the staff for their support.

I hope and believe Red Tractor will have a successful future.’  

Professor Guy Poppy has been appointed to the Assured Food Standards (AFS) Board, as Red Tractor’s new scientific adviser for agricultural and food science.

Professor Poppy is an expert in food systems and security. He continues to conduct prominent research in both areas and advises governments on these issues around the world.

His role, to provide strategic insight and direction for the scheme regarding agricultural and food science, emphasises Red Tractor’s determination to ensure the relevance and robustness of the scheme’s standards in a post- Brexit world.

Red Tractor Chair Baroness (Lucy) Neville-Rolfe said: “This is a critically important time for Red Tractor to demonstrate strong leadership in protecting the integrity of the food chain and British agricultural standards.

“Our standards are the bedrock of the farming industry. So, it’s our duty to understand the implications of any changes in approach to the science of food production and farming. I am confident that Guy’s experience and skills will help us to navigate this process safely.”

Professor Poppy, whose term begins in November, said: “I am really looking forward to joining the board of Red Tractor. Maintaining high standards in food has never been more important and I am looking forward to building a better food system. I am confident that certified standards through the Red Tractor scheme will play a major role.”

Professor Poppy is currently serving as a Senior Professor at the University of Southampton, where he continues his research into global food security, and is the Director of a new £47.5 million Strategic Priorities Fund research programme focused on transforming the UK food system. His previous roles have included being the Chief Scientific Adviser at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Principal Scientific Officer at Rothamsted Research.

His appointment comes as industry stalwart, David Clarke CBE, steps down from Red Tractor duties next month. As a founding member of the scheme, David led the organisation as its CEO for 17 years, before continuing to provide guidance in his capacity as science Director on the AFS Board.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe added: “I would like to take this opportunity to mark the incredible work and commitment that David has displayed over decades. It is easy to underestimate the impact he has had on British food and farming, after it was devastated by a decade of food scares back in the 1990s. During his tenure at Red Tractor, the confidence in and support for the industry has continued to grow. Now in our twentieth year, more than 75 per cent of British Agriculture is Red Tractor assured and consumer trust is at an all-time high.

“I would like to offer our thanks and wish David the very best of luck for the future.”

Red Tractor is the UK’s largest food standards scheme, covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection. Working with experts in the relevant fields, the programme ensures that families across Britain have access to safe, quality food that has been grown and reared in the UK to rigorous, certified farming standards.

Research conducted by YouGov has found that Red Tractor is the UK’s most trusted food assurance scheme, with almost three-quarters of shoppers who are aware of the organisation citing it as an independent source they can trust.   Seven out of ten primary shoppers state they are positively influenced by the Red Tractor on-pack, and nearly 45 per cent say they would trade up from a cheaper product to one which bears the logo.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley, today sets out how innovation has protected UK’s supply chain, by completing more than 10,000 remote assessments since Covid-19.

His Blog In Full Below:

Covid-19 has brought food supply into sharp focus – perhaps more so than any other time since World War 2. It has changed the way people are buying and consuming food, in ways that wouldn’t have seemed possible a few months ago.

We have learnt a lot about our country, our supply chains and ourselves during the past five months. It united the food sector and garnered support for British Farmers, as they stepped up to help feed the nation in the face of adversity. This all took place as the demand for food reached levels only seen at Christmas but with zero notice.

The response of the public and the industry was in stark contrast to the torrid times of the 1990’s, when after a spate of food scares, trust in British Agriculture was at an all-time low. It devastated farming and food businesses up and down the country and ruined livelihoods. One very important element of this journey to rebuild trust and improve farming standards has been Red Tractor.

With over 46,000 British farmer members and approximately 75% of British agricultural output Red Tractor Assured, it is the UK’s largest food and farming scheme. Membership provides a route to market to some of the UK’s largest food service customers, restaurant chains, pubs and supermarkets, in an industry that contributes more than £100 billion to the economy and employs more than 4 million people. Because of this, our mission is very clear – Protect the integrity of the food chain and agricultural standards, so that everyone in the UK has access to safe, affordable and responsibly sourced food.

We are yet to understand the true extent of the health and economic ramifications of this global pandemic. But with more than 8 million people struggling to get enough food on their tables, there is no more important time to safeguard standards and the affordability of food.

To achieve this, innovation played a significant part in two key areas:

Both have been instrumental in allowing farmers to complete their assessments to either gain or maintain their assurance status throughout this period, whilst protecting the health of everyone involved in the chain.

To date, since the roll out of the Red Tractor Portal to all members, and the launch of the remote assessments protocol in March, more than 10,000 of our farmers have been able to complete their assessments safely and effectively. This important milestone has been reached, thanks to the herculean efforts of our technical team, our certification bodies and the resilience of farmers.

Together we have created a system that is fit for purpose for the times we are in, and a valuable asset for the future. Through innovation, we have delivered a solution for conserving a secure and traceable supply chain, that families across the nation can have confidence in. Now more than ever, is the time to uphold and not compromise on food standards.

Guy Smith has been appointed as Red Tractor’s new Combinable Crops and Sugar Beet Sector Chair and will succeed Laurence Matthews, who completes his second term in November 2020.

Mr Smith joins Red Tractor after decades of noteworthy experience as an advocate and leader in the British agricultural industry, and a background in practical farm business management and award-winning conservation.  His roles have included serving as the Deputy President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), an NFU Governance Board Member and an AHDB Crops Board Member.

Jim Moseley, Red Tractor CEO said: “British Agriculture is facing some of the greatest challenges of a lifetime. We must show strong leadership to protect the integrity of the food chain and British agricultural standards and I’m sure that Guy’s experience and skills will help us navigate through this time.”

Guy Smith said: “I’m delighted to join Red Tractor at such a critical time for British Agriculture. I’ve been Red Tractor Assured since its inception twenty years ago. Their standards have been developed over two decades and are the bedrock of our industry.  We must continue to protect and defend these standards, and work to win the hearts and minds of government, consumers and the industry;  so we don’t witness an influx of imported food produced to standards that are lower than the UK.”

Jim Moseley added: “I would like to thank Laurence Matthews for over a decade of leadership and dedicated service to Red Tractor, most recently as Chair of the Crops Sector. We wish him all the best for the future when his term ends.”

Red Tractor is the UK’s largest food standards scheme, covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection. Working with experts in their fields, the programme ensures that families across Britain have access to safe, quality food that has been grown and reared in the UK to rigorous farming standards.

Red Tractor, the UK’s largest Food and Farming Assurance scheme, has today launched a new look which aims to set out the credentials of the food which carries its logo.

The new visual identity addresses a number of the challenges that British food and farming industry face – clearly differentiating to consumers the food which has been carefully produced to world-leading standards, to ensure that it is safe and fully traceable.

The 18-month programme to roll out the new look, will see the new logo appearing on packaging as the UK’s popular brands update their packaging.

The design draws on its 20-year history of checking British sourced food and drink all the way along its journey from farm to pack, the new logo retains the union flag to signify that the product has been grown, reared, processed and packed in the UK and will now feature:

The introduction of the new logo comes as new research has found that Red Tractor has a much higher level of awareness than all other food assurance marques. Eight out of ten shoppers are aware of the logo and see it as a positive, reassuring on-pack signpost in supermarkets.

Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley said:  ‘Given the great care and attention that Red Tractor and our farmers put into ensuring that food we eat is safe and fully traceable, we owe it to our members that we improve shoppers and diners understanding of the scheme.

‘Created 20 years ago to rebuild trust in British Agriculture after a spate of food scares, the logo was designed to be very utilitarian. Two decades on, we are facing a new watershed moment, with the market facing huge uncertainty. As we move through this unprecedented time, it is critical that we help shoppers to clearly differentiate which food has been produced and checked to world-leading standards from farm to pack – and the simplest way to do this is to look for the Red Tractor and the tick.’

‘We believe passionately that people of the UK should be able to buy quality food they can trust, whatever their budget. And by choosing the Red Tractor, they are helping to foster a better future for British agriculture, farmers, growers and producers.’

Red Tractor is an unique assurance scheme covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection from farm to pack. This ensures that families across Britain have access to safe & affordable food.

With over 46,000 British farmer members of the scheme, approximately 75% of UK agricultural output is Red Tractor assured. Membership provides a route to market for major supermarkets and some of the UK’s largest food service customers – resulting in over £14 billion of British produced food and drink carrying the logo.

After more than three years of confusion the UK is set to leave the EU at the end of this month. It’s a major milestone for every business and for everyone.

For the farming community, all eyes are now on the trade terms under which food will be imported and exported out of the UK.

At this time of great change, where we are seeing shifting food consumption patterns, a digital revolution and the challenges of climate change; one thing in agriculture remains constant- Red Tractor continues to help keep food produced in Britain safe.

We should be proud of how food is produced in this country. The standards we set for farmers, have not been created overnight; they are the result of two decades of constant improvement.

Our exceptional quality standards send a firm signal that British Farming is a bastion for high standards. One of its strongest assets is Red Tractor, which celebrates turning 20 this year.

Red Tractor, created to rebuild trust in British Agriculture after a spate of food scares, now has an equally important job to ensure that the UK maintains its leading position on food production. To do this we need to ensure that we continue to evolve so that food is produced in the way that the consumers of today demand.

Around 75 per cent of UK agricultural output is Red Tractor assured – which means about £14 billion of British produced food and drink carry our logo. Our standards are steeped in scientific understanding and they ensure food safety from farm to fork. As we say – safe, traceable and farmed with care.

Our rules are designed to keep diseases like E.coli out of farms – for example by requiring the use of water that is fit for human consumption on crops and fresh produce like lettuce. Protecting consumers from food scares continues to be one of Red Tractor’s reasons for being.

Red Tractor’s standards are set above the legal minimum, pushing forward on issues consumers care about.

YouGov found that eight out of 10 UK adults admit to taking food safety for granted and the latest figures for foodborne illnesses in the UK are currently as low as 1.5%, compared with figures from the US figure of 17%.

So as Red Tractor enters its 20th year and we celebrate what has been achieved in the last two decades, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind the Government that while UK farming holds itself to a high standard, any trade agreement must demand the same of other countries- making it an equal and fair playing field.

To mark the occasion, we presented this wonderful cake to the Prime Minister. We are told he was very impressed.

Stewart Houston has been appointed as Red Tractor’s new Pig Sector Committee Chair and Board Director. The position,  which is part-time and can be held for two three-year terms, has the responsibility for leading the development of the Red Tractor Assurance Pigs scheme and its standards.

Mr Houston joins Red Tractor with an extensive background in food and farming, having previously served as a Non-Exec board member for the Food Standards Agency, Chair of the British Pig Executive, an AHDB Board Member and Executive Director of the National Pig Association.

As a Non-Exec Member of Defra’s Animal Health and Welfare Board,  Stewart continues to advise ministers on the delivery of Animal health and welfare policy and is the board lead for the Livestock Information Service and EU animal Health law.

Jim Moseley, Red Tractor CEO said: “As the UK enters into this unprecedented period of uncertainty, there has never been a more important time for Red Tractor to demonstrate strong industry leadership in pigs, as the UK’s largest food assurance scheme.

“I’m confident that under Stewart’s stewardship we will continue to strengthen our position as a progressive and critical body within the food and drink industry.”

Stewart Houston said: “I’m delighted to join Red Tractor at such a critical time for British Agriculture. Our high standards are the bedrock of our industry and we must continue to work to win the hearts and minds of government, consumers and the industry so that don’t witness an influx of imported food produced to lower standards that is required of farmers in the UK.”

Stewart joins Red Tractor in the new year, taking over the post currently held by Mike Sheldon.

Jim Moseley added: “ I would like to thank Mike for all his leadership and his dedicated service over the years at the start of Red Tractor’s journey 20 years ago and then as Chair of the Pig Sector. We wish him all the best for the future.”

Red Tractor is the UK’s largest food standards scheme, covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection. Working with experts in their fields, the programme ensures that families across Britain have access to safe, quality food that has been grown and reared in the UK to rigorous farming standards.