12 April 2000
Gill blasts ‘whinging’ kitemark critics

By FWi staff

FARMERS leader Ben Gill has hit out at criticism of the kitemark developed by the National Farmers Union in a bid to promote British food.

The NFU president said it was vital that the kitemark succeeded. People who openly disliked the logo were “knocking, whinging critics”, he added.

Many farmers beg to differ, however. They believe the NFU should have based the logo on a Union Jack flag, rather than a red and blue F-shaped tractor.

But Mr Gill drew attention to research conducted for the union which shows that the logo will persuade 60% of shoppers to buy the food on which it appears.

“The key element is that the mark is the visible and clear and hits people between the eyes. Thats how it will be done,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“The importance is we have a single mark for the whole industry so the consumer can readily identify the product whichever retailer that he or she is in.”

One consumer interviewed by Farming Today said she preferred a Union Jack logo. Another said he bought on price, not on country-of-origin logos.

Speaking on the programme, Mr Gill suggested that farmers and consumers were suffering from what he described as “the great British disease”.

He said: “People come up with a good idea and all the commentators want to do is knock it. Thats not what happens in the rest of Europe.”

He added: “Its not what happens with our competitors. They get stuck in behind it and promote it like mad.”

Mr Gill urged farmers to get behind the mark, claiming that the logo had won the support of many within the industry as well as the big supermarket chains.

“If were really serious about protecting the interests of our industry, then lets get stuck in rather than being so demonstratively negative and petty about details.”

This mark has got to be a success for the sake of the whole industry, he said.

“But that can be made so much poorer if the knocking whinging critics go on picking out the negative points rather than promoting the positive.”