It’s a small logo which carries a huge amount of significance.The Red Tractor appears on food worth more than £14bn in retailers across the UK, providing confidence to shoppers that the product inside the packaging is safe, traceable and has been produced to certain standards. About two-thirds of shoppers say they recognise it, while half say that it influences their decision whether or not to buy the product. Recent market research shows that when shoppers know what the logo stands for – and the robust standards behind it – they are twice as likely to buy a Red Tractor-assured product.
“There are more than 70,000 Red Tractor assured farm businesses in the UK,” says Charlotte Wardle, the organisation’s scheme member manager. “Members are independently assessed to make sure that they are farming to the standards set out within the scheme, and can then sell what they produce as farm assured.” In some cases this means a small price premium for the farmer – for others it means that they can sell to major food manufacturers who insist on their suppliers being assured.
For all farmers it means fewer inspections from government and its agencies because they have already proven to be meeting certain criteria through their Red Tractor assessment. “First and foremost, the Red Tractor logo is there to protect the integrity of UK farming – it’s the industry’s first line of defence,” Mrs Wardle added. “Being farm assured means that the farmer has consistently demonstrated that they are meeting the standards set out by the scheme.” Funded by the farming industry, it was established in 2000 to bring together farm assurance under one umbrella rather than each farming sector running its own schemes.
In 17 years it has become the UK’s biggest farm and food standards scheme, covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection. Standards are constantly reviewed by a range of experts from vets to retailers, farmers to abattoirs. “The scheme has to, and does, stay ahead of the curve in terms of consumer demands,” Mrs Wardle added.