The prime minister and DEFRA gave the green light to the Food Chain Centre this week after IGD president David Webster told Tony Blair that the project would "help to build trust and confidence in an industry where these qualities have often been lacking". During a private Downing Street meeting to discuss the recommendations in Sir Don Curry's report on the Policy Commission into the Future of Farming and Food, Webster revealed the centre would be supervised by a steering group of 12 from across the food chain (including foodservice) and chaired by National Consumer Council chair Deirdre Hutton. The centre, which is being facilitated by IGD, will have five objectives: l to provide a source of information and analysis; l to champion the concepts of benchmarking, best practice exchange and collaborative trading relationships, helping to create a better connected food chain; l to develop, test and spread improvement methodology helping businesses to improve their efficiency; l to promote a clear understanding of consumer trends and market needs; l to develop an information infrastructure and training capability to ensure all members of the food chain are able to share in best practice. During the Downing Street session, attended by key food chain stakeholders and representatives of other rural interests, the IGD president revealed the centre would "operate as openly as possible" and publish all its management papers on a freely accessible web site. Webster also assured the PM that it would be particularly sensitive to the needs of small businesses and while being strictly neutral it would not favour one interest group at the expense of any other. As The Grocer went to press, the appointment of the widely experienced Deirdre Hutton as chair was being hailed by many along the chain as an "astute move". As one industry figure put it: "We're always accused of ignoring the consumer. Deirdre is an excellent advocate for their interests." However, concerns remain the government may not come up with sufficient cash to implement the more substantive proposals of the Curry report. l See News Analysis, p14 and Opinion, p16. {{NEWS }}