Kitemark: Trade still waits for arable policies
By Andrew Blake
DETAILS of how the NFUs British Farm Standard kitemark (News, Mar 31) will be applied to arable products were still to be worked out earlier this week.
The red, white and blue logo could be on early potatoes by May. But it may be much longer before it appears on supermarket items containing processed produce.
Plans are in hand to set up a standards council to oversee BFS licensing arrangements, said the NFUs Jonathan Tipples, chairman of the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme.
The council is expected to consist of chairmen from all the UKs assured produce schemes and a few independent members. "We shall be looking for recognition by the Food Standards Agency."
Under EU rules the kitemark could appear on imported material produced to the same standards, he noted.
"We are very supportive and have had initial talks with the NFU about how we can use it," a British Potato Council spokeswoman commented. "The unions May activities should tie in well with our own earlies campaign and we shall integrate them as much as possible."
About 80% of the UK potato crop, fresh and processed, is already farm assured and sold through supermarkets, she noted. "The BPC logo is seen as a quality mark. But people want more assurance."
Getting the BFS kitemark onto processed foods is bound to take longer, acknowledged Mr Tipples. "It is clearly harder to identify all parts of a biscuit."
Allied Mills wheat director Peter Jones reserved judgement on whether the firms flours could be tagged BFS until the NFUs objectives were clearer. "I think we might struggle."
Although millers use much more UK-grown wheat in their grists than in the past, they still have to import about 20% for technical reasons, he explained.
Maltsters had not formally been approached by the NFU on the kitemark, according Bob King, commercial director of Crisp Maltings.
"We are waiting to see what the pick up is from ACCS and Scottish Quality Cereals," he said. An ACCS board meeting on the subject is scheduled for next week.
"Well go for anything that stands for quality provided it is robust and we can stand behind it. We already put stickers saying "British Malt" on our export containers."
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• Standards council planned.
• Potatoes early candidates.
• Processed item tagging slower.
• Could be used on imports.