Red Tractor Week got off to a flying start on Monday 9th July, with four MPs racing tractors across the famous East Piazza in London’s Covent Garden.
The high profile press launch and photo-call kicks off a week of regional events to promote the Red Tractor logo to shoppers. Fronted by celebrity chef, James Tanner, the week is being backed by major retailers and supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Budgens, which will all support the Red Tractor logo with recipes, tastings and in-store promotions on British food.
“Red Tractor Week is a great opportunity for Assured Food Standards and its partners to really get behind the mark and help drive the scheme forward,” says Colin Smith, Assured Food Standards’ Chairman.
“Since its launch seven years ago, our independent scheme has brought together leading producers, processors and retailers in an unprecedented industry alliance, working to maintain and improve food production standards at every stage from farm to pack.”
The Red Tractor logo is becoming increasingly established in food buyers’ eyes as an instantly recognisable sign of food produced to strict standards of food safety, hygiene and animal welfare. The Union flag in the logo also indicates it has been farmed and packed in the UK.
In the past year 68,000 Red Tractor farmers produced £5.3 billion worth of UK food carrying the logo, accounting for 66% to 95% of fresh farm produce.
During the Covent Garden launch the four MPs raced across the East Piazza on compact Massey Ferguson tractors. The company has supported Red Tractor from its inception.
“We recognise the food chain is now completely integrated – nobody stands alone,” says David Sleath, Massey Ferguson’s Sales Director, UK and Ireland.
“Farm produce must not be treated as a commodity. All producers need to stand together with processors, packers and the retailers to ensure the message about the high quality standards in UK food production, which the Red Tractor symbolises, reaches shoppers.”
“This is how they will compete on a global scale and secure markets for sustainable, high quality and traceable food that will help to safeguard a long term profitable future.”
Lembit Öpik, the irrepressible MP for Montgomeryshire, brought his renowned enthusiasm to the launch. The media-savvy MP attracted huge attention from the gathered press and used the opportunity well to promote Red Tractor and British food standards.
“I may not have won this tractor race,” he says.
“But the real competition is on the supermarket shelves and I would encourage shoppers to rush to buy this superb produce carrying the Red Tractor Logo that’s guaranteed to be great.”
A more restrained Lord Rupert Redesdale showed his rural roots by winning the MP’s tractor challenge.
“I am supporting this initiative because I feel Red Tractor is absolutely vital in helping to promote British food and assuring buyers that it is produced to strict standards, which are monitored by independent assessors. And with so many labels in the shops we need to do everything we can to ensure the Red Tractor becomes the most identifiable brand.”
MP Tim Farron says he is encouraged by seeing the Red Tractor logo in the fields in his Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency.
“It is a great idea that helps to promote British food to shoppers. They see the logo in the fields and make the connection in the supermarket. I really hope to see the scheme grow and become the recognisable symbol that represents all that’s good about British meat and produce,” he says.
“I don’t just look for the Red Tractor on all the food I buy, but also check to see it has been grown by farmers in my constituency,” explains Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire.
“Only 17% of the land in my area is built on. The rest is farmland, which produces a wide range of quality food from grain and chickens through to vegetables and salads. I know how hard these farms work to produce food to the highest standards and, indeed, what they need to do to qualify to use the Red Tractor Logo. This is why I am here today, supporting the scheme.”