How does Red Tractor rank against other food assurance schemes?

UK - Today (28 February) Red Tractor announced the findings from a benchmarking study it undertook to discover how its own scheme measures up against leading international food assurance schemes
calendar icon 28 February 2019
clock icon 4 minute read

In the same week that the seventh Business Benchmark for Animal Welfare was launched, ranking the world's leading food producers for their animal welfare practices and with only one month left before the UK is set to leave the European Union, the UK's most widespread food assurance scheme held a seminar at the House of Lords to announce the work it has put into understanding its strengths and weaknesses compared with other assurance schemes.

Led by Dr Johnathan Birnie who studied at the Agricultural Institute of Northern Ireland and Queens University, the research and benchmarking project revealed that Red Tractor is a leader in some areas, it is lagging behind in others, such as environmental protection and stewardship, and farmer health and safety.

Dr Birnie said: “As a complete scheme Red Tractor is the highest performing on an international basis. While there are areas that could be developed, the existing scheme is comprehensive and a great foundation on which to build these additional standards. I have come away with a great amount of confidence in Red Tractor following my detailed comparable analysis of all food sectors globally.”

The study looked at a comparison of the following schems across the globe:

Some of topline findings include:

  • Red Tractor was found to be consistently world-leading in traceability and food safety.
  • In food safety Red Tractor performs well against all other schemes. Especially noted is the provision of specific and detailed standards.
  • Red Tractor performed very well in terms of staff training standards. However, Worker Welfare or the Ethical Treatment of agricultural workers is not well covered by nearly all farm assurance schemes across the globe and provision of significant development is required across all schemes including Red Tractor.
  • In broiler chickens new enrichment standards are very robust and almost in line with the RSPCA (bales, perches and pecking objects).
  • The Red Tractor Chicken Scheme is world-leading in terms of its whole assurance chain, ie, assured breeder farms, hatcheries, broiler farms, catching, transport and processing. Areas to consider for future standards development include: stocking density, lighting and genetics (slow growing breeds).

Red Tractor CEO, Jim Moseley said: “Our standards are world-class as is evidenced by this research and increases our determination to be the flagship of British food and farming. Our vision and the work we are already implementing to develop standards in certain areas will place Red Tractor firmly at the centre of UK agriculture worldwide. However, our focus remains working hard to ensure that every standard is in place on every farm, every day.”

The findings support Red Tractor’s planned development to cover specialist areas such as higher welfare, environmental enhancement and organic production.

Mr Moseley added: “While specialist schemes may have higher standards on specific single issues they do not offer the breadth across all aspects of farm production. Our ambition is to combine the current robust core of Red Tractor with additional standards on single issues to create a broader and stronger offer.”

The International Benchmarking Study was announced at an event hosted by Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe at the House of Lords on Thursday 28th February 2019.

Red Tractor is a world-leading farm and food assurance scheme that provides traceable and safe food for UK consumers. The Red Tractor logo can be found on millions of food items sold in supermarkets and restaurants across the country. "It’s an easy signpost for British consumers looking for food that they can trust," said Red Tractor in a news release.

Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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