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East Anglia Future 50

Farming feature: Driving British food forward with the Red Tractor logo

PUBLISHED: 06:15 30 March 2019

eadt county life - sarah chambers -  photograph Tudor Morgan-Owen 26/01/12  Euston Estate Feature  Estate Director Andrew Blenkiron  EADT 1.1.13

eadt county life - sarah chambers - photograph Tudor Morgan-Owen 26/01/12 Euston Estate Feature Estate Director Andrew Blenkiron EADT 1.1.13

To supply excellent quality, affordable and nutritious food for everyone should be the aspiration of all British farmers.

Andrew Blenkiron (left) promoting Red Tractor as part of a joint industry initiative at the Lord Mayor’s Show  Picture: LLOYD STURDYAndrew Blenkiron (left) promoting Red Tractor as part of a joint industry initiative at the Lord Mayor’s Show Picture: LLOYD STURDY

The flagship of this aspiration, now more than ever, must be the Red Tractor logo. This demonstrates that the food British farmers are so proud to produce is safe, traceable and farmed with care.

I am privileged to be a director of Assured Food Standards, the organisation that owns and operates the Red Tractor scheme. This works across the whole food supply chain to give our customers the confidence that they can guarantee they are purchasing the best produce the world can supply.

Not only does it guarantee meat, but it confirms that all food from milk to fruit and vegetables, including the sugar we grow from sugar beet here in East Anglia, is farmed with care and assured to be of the highest welfare and environmental standards.

A recent international benchmarking study, comparing food assurance schemes from around the world , has very much supported these claims. Red Tractor is equally as good, if not better, than claimed. Not only do we rank highly with the best schemes in the world but, unusually, we assure our food from field to shelf.

Andrew Blenkiron, Euston Estate director and vice chairman of NFU Suffolk  Picture: GEOFF PAGOTTOAndrew Blenkiron, Euston Estate director and vice chairman of NFU Suffolk Picture: GEOFF PAGOTTO

That’s not just the farm, it’s the transport, the processors, the packers and everything in between. Indeed, if we knew what goes on between the shop and your plate we could give a from field-to-fork guarantee.

Being in existence for less than 20 years and despite operating with a small budget, the Red Tractor logo now appears on £14bn worth of food on retailers’ shelves and is recognised by many, though unfortunately not totally understood by all.

The claims of recognition and understanding are not made lightly. A massive amount of research validates our thoughts and has allowed us at Red Tractor to make some significant decisions.

One of those decisions was to launch our first ever television advertising campaign last autumn. It was a statement of intent, a clear message that we believe Red Tractor has a vital role to play in the future of British farming and goes some way to explain the robust standards behind the logo.

The advertisement carries our simple, punchy strapline: Red Tractor food is traceable, safe and farmed with care. Being aware that many don’t watch television these days, this message was also repeated through as many social media and print channels that we could afford, including the use of modern-day influencers. Hopefully, that includes those of you reading this article!

Thankfully, Red Tractor has been rewarded for this brave move. Further research, completed since the campaign, has indicated that 1.4m more shoppers say that they will now choose Red Tractor food over cheaper alternatives.

An increased recognition of the logo, and a greater awareness and understanding of what it is all about, have also followed. To continue to ensure the message hits home we are planning to repeat the exercise later this year, with the objective of developing loyalty among our consumers so that they more actively seek out British, assured food.

This will help to provide our farmer members with security and increased demand, our retailers with a reason to use the logo and our customers with the food that they deserve.

I really enjoy speaking to people, spreading the message about Red Tractor Assurance and what it delivers for them. I’m not afraid to say I honestly believe Red Tractor farm assurance has never been more important for British farming.

I urge those of you who can to help spread that message. Mention it when you are at the shops and eating out, inform those who want to buy the best food that they should look for the logo and remember that you can trust the tractor, as it will provide you with food that is safe, traceable and farmed with care.

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