24 May 2002

Food mile damage – more emphasis

THE concept of "food miles" and the damage being done to the environment by transporting food around the world must be promoted more strongly, said Donald Curry, chairman of the food and farming commission.

Responding to questions at Bristol Universitys Langford Food Industry conference Sir Donald said the food miles concept would help UK food producers compete with low cost imports. Combining food miles with a trusted UK food standard would help.

But the best candidate for that standard – the Little Red Tractor – needed significant funds to raise consumer awareness of what it stood for. And he challenged DEFRA to supply those funds.

Kevin Hawkins, Safeways communications director, agreed that the Little Red Tractor needed a big injection of capital. "Its a brand. And you dont create a brand on b*gger all resources in two years. Its a big hill to climb." &#42

The retailers are committed to help climb it. But if there is no money forthcoming from the Treasury we are in for a long haul."

Earlier, food chain minister Lord Whitty told the conference he was trying to bring together government departments with significant catering establishments to try and persuade them to buy more UK produce. And he agreed the little red tractor needed greater public awareness and trust. "We are discussing with the whole food chain how to achieve that. If the red tractor is to be credible it must deliver what consumers want."