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Red Tractor to introduce 'modular standards' in major shake-up

10th Sep 2018 / By Alistair Driver

Red Tractor has announced plans for the biggest shake-up in the assurance scheme’s 19-year history in a bid to turn it into the ‘flagship of British food and farming’.

Red Tractor ad imageAt the heart of the plans will be the introduction of differentiated tiers of assurance to reflect growing consumer interest in how their food is produced.  

The changes, which Red Tractor hopes will be in place by the end of 2019, will create a new suite of ‘Modular Standards’, to sit alongside its current core offering. The new modules will cover areas like enhanced animal welfare, organic and environmentally sustainable production and will be launched with a consumer-facing labelling system to improve clarity for shoppers.

The assurance scheme has also announced plans to ‘strengthen the scheme’s integrity’ by introducing more unannounced checks for farmers that fail to comply with Red Tractor’s standards.

The announcements have been made in the week that Red Tractor’s first ever TV advertising campaign gets underway. The first advert in the 1.5 million campaign will be shown for the first time on Wednesday evening during popular soap Emmerdale.

Jim MoseleyRed Tractor Assurance CEO Jim Moseley said increasing confidence in Red Tractor and the entire UK food industry was vital, particularly as we approach Brexit.  

“Our vision is that Red Tractor is seen by shoppers, farmers and the food industry as the flagship of British food and farming,” he said.

"Red Tractor is already a world-leading assurance scheme; however, we are constantly strengthening our standards in line with scientific advances and consumer demand.

"We know shoppers are increasingly looking for more informed choice and simple signposts to traceable, safe and responsibly produced food, which is why we are looking to extend the remit of Red Tractor.”

He stressed that plans for the modular system, which he described as ‘complete assurance’ were still in the very early stages. There will be a consultation with industry about how the system will work in practice, while Red Tractor is also carrying out consumer research and analysing assurance schemes in place around the world to find examples of best practice.

Mr Moseley said the aim was for Red Tractor to become the ‘one stop shop for all assurance and all kinds of farm production’. He acknowledged that there are other ‘excellent’ assurance scheme’ in place and said Red Tractor wanted to introduce its new system in collaboration with them. It already in discussion with other scheme operators, including LEAF and the Soil Association, about a collaborative approach.

Red Tractor has also stressed that it does not envisage any ‘enhanced welfare’ module being specifically linked to ‘housing system’.

NPA response

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We welcome the promotion campaign that should showcase the lengths that our farmers go to in order to supply British shoppers with safe, traceable food.

“A Red Tractor scheme that embraces industry and an industry that embraces Red Tractor must surely be the greatest assurance consumers both in this country and beyond can have."

She said the NPA would play an active role in feeding into the consultation on the new modular system to ensure it reflects the needs of members.


Red Tractor changes in summary

Red Tractor logo 3New ‘Modular Standards’

  • Offering additional modules of standards to include enhanced animal welfare, organic and environmentally sustainable production within the Red Tractor scheme.
  • Aim is to launch in 2019, following consultation.

Increased Unannounced Inspections

  • The objective is that ‘every Red Tractor member adheres to every standard every day’, with failure risking expulsion from the scheme.
  •  Farms that fail Red Tractor standards will find themselves the focus of a tougher inspection regime with greater inspection frequency and unannounced inspections.
  • The new regime has been in development for the last 12 months and will begin in November 2018 for full roll-out across all farms in 2019.     

TV Advertising Campaign

  • £1.5 campaign launches on Wednesday September 12
  • Will communicate to consumers what sits behind the Red Tractor logo through national TV advertising, supported with print, digital and in-store activity.
  • Designed to increase shopper understanding of what the Red Tractor logo means and the lengths it goes to, to ensure traceable, safe food that is farmed with care.
  • Created by Mackinnon & Saunders, the artists who brought you among other things, the Fantastic Mr Fox.