12 January 2001
Little red tractor? What’s that, then?

By FWi staff

THREE in four consumers have no idea what the National Farmers Union little red tractor logo stands for, according to a new survey.

The BBC 1 Countryfile programme commissioned researchers to ask 1000 people if they recognised the British Farm Standard logo.

Despite the NFU spending 1 million advertising the logo and running in-store promotion at major supermarkets, 75% could not says what the logo was.

The distinctive little red tractor mark was launched as a guarantee of hygiene, welfare and environment standards.

But the NFU told the BBC that a 25% recognition rate was a fair result considering the logo was launched only seven months ago.

However, the Countryfile research also found that, of the 25% who did recognise the logo, most thought it guaranteed the produce being British.

In fact, EU competition laws allow foreign produce can qualify for the red tractor. The NFU has always insisted that only UK products are carrying it.

There has also been criticism of the logos environmental credentials, with green groups saying they only guarantee the bare minimum.

At the recent Oxford Farming conference, Graham Wynne, RSPB chief executive, said many British farm assurance schemes did little to boost wildlife.

And Food Standards Agency chairman Sir John Krebs used the same platform to say the little red tractor misled the public.

He claimed some shoppers were under the false impression that food carrying the logo was independently audited and was necessarily British.

The NFU launched a campaign in the autumn to promote the little red tractor with 350 billboard posters and enlisting “tasty farmers”.

And in December, the union was delighted when the Advertising Standards Authority rejected claims by a consumer watchdog that the logo is misleading.

The Food Commission had challenged claims that produce carrying the logo could be described as “the highest standard of food”.

Countryfile is on BBC 1 on Sunday (14 January) at 11am.