The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has asked for industry views on the merits of a single assurance scheme over the various schemes currently in use, which critics argue confuse consumers. The consultation also aims to establish whether, if a single scheme is favoured, the Red Tractor logo should be used or a fresh alternative created.
The Red Tractor, which features on £7.5bn worth of groceries, would effectively become obsolete if it weren’t adopted by AHDB because it would have no money for promotion.
Other logos under threat include Eblex and Bpex Quality Standards. Mick Sloyan, chief executive of the British Pig Executive, said he was not averse to a single assurance scheme if it helped the British pig industry. “If retailers commit to not only supporting but actively promoting a single label, that would benefit pig producers.” However, supporters argued that the adoption of the Red Tractor as the industry standard would simplify the message for consumers baffled by the plethora of schemes.
“Quality standards, traceability and origin have a significant influence on consumer purchase decisions,” said Colin Smith, chairman of Assured Food Standards, which promotes the Red Tractor label. “Red Tractor provides all this in one logo.”
Retailers are expected to be key to the outcome of the consultation. The Food and Drink Federation said it was a strong supporter of the Red Tractor, while English Apples & Pears said it supported it, but improvements were needed.
The poultry industry was also expected to back the proposals as 90% of British poultry is already Red Tractor assured. Any decision over a scheme will need Defra and EU backing. Consultation responses are due in by 31 October and will be analysed in November.