I’ve spent the whole of my career in the food industry, and one thing I’ve learned over the years is the profound importance of animal welfare in farming.

It was this and my drive to make a difference that led me to step into the role of executive director of RSPCA Assured earlier this year.

The RSPCA’s higher welfare assurance scheme, RSPCA Assured, was revolutionary when it started 30 years ago. It continues to be a driving force for change today – not just for animals, but the entire food system.

Our logo was launched as a simple way for shoppers to identify higher welfare products, and we remain the easiest way to quickly signify that to customers on-pack.

It was the first scheme to focus solely on farm animal welfare and require its members to meet market-leading welfare standards developed by the RSPCA, covering every aspect of animals’ lives.

That includes everything from introducing vital enrichment  – which allows animals to express natural behaviours such as rooting, perching and pecking  – to banning cages for hens and farrowing crates for pigs. As such, RSPCA Assured has made a difference to the lives of many millions of animals in the UK – and inspired improvements in welfare around the world.

Millions of pigs, hens, chickens, turkeys, cows, salmon and trout are farmed under the scheme in the UK each year, accounting for about half of laying hens, 20% of pigs, and more than 90% of farmed Scottish salmon. More than 1,800 RSPCA Assured-labelled products are stocked by most of the major retailers and served in several restaurants.

I’m extremely proud of these achievements, which wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and commitment of our RSPCA Assured members and retail partners. But, as animal rights campaigners have rightly pointed out, the farming industry still faces some challenges.

You may have seen that the RSPCA has recently been the focus of activists who don’t think we should be working with the food and farming industries to improve welfare. Their action has been wide ranging, including undercover filming on a handful of RSPCA Assured members’ farms.

Clearly animal welfare is our top priority – it’s the sole reason the charity scheme exists – and we take any concerns extremely seriously. At the time of writing, our investigations into whether there have been any breaches by RSPCA Assured members are ongoing.

To help put the allegations into context, welfare problems on RSPCA Assured member farms are very rare.

It’s true that some animal welfare issues in farming aren’t easy to solve, but we (and the RSPCA) are the only organisations tackling this head-on by working directly with the industry to bring about vital improvements.

In a recent YouGov poll, 86% of people said they wouldn’t consider adopting a vegan diet within the next 12 months. This is further proof there’s a vital role for RSPCA Assured to play in improving farm animal welfare.

So as we approach our 30th birthday next month, we’re more determined than ever to achieve our ambition of more than half of the UK’s farmed animals being reared to RSPCA welfare standards by 2030.

We remain confident that the best way to achieve this is by inspiring everyone who chooses to eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy to look for RSPCA Assured.