Shoppers are urged to buy Red Tractor food

Richard Longthorp
Richard Longthorp
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Farmers are taking a message to choose locally produced, high quality food to their fields as they attempt to capitalise on the post ‘horsegate’ mood for buying British.

Research suggests consumers are more inclined to seek out British food products after the horsemeat contamination scandal. Eight out of ten shoppers (78 per cent) say they will buy British food if it is available in their local store, up from 55 per cent in 2007, according to the latest research from IGD ShopperVista.

The new farmer-backed ‘Trust the Tractor’ campaign by the not-for-profit Red Tractor Assurance organisation aims to capitalise on the increased sentiments for British food.

Richard Longthorp, of Howden and chairman of the National Pig Association, will be one of many farmers who will display a banner bearing the campaign slogan at his farm next month. The horsemeat scandal makes the Red Tractor logo more relevant than ever, he said.

“The key word is ‘trust’. What people want most is to be able to buy from a trusted source. The Red Tractor with the Union flag affords that trust; trust that the product has been subject to rigorous standards; trust that it has been produced responsibly, and trust that, because it carries the Union flag, it has been farmed, processed and packed in the UK.”

Major retailers are waking up to Red Tractor products being a short circuit to trust, Mr Longthorp said.

“What shocked us in the meat farming supply chain about horsegate was seeing the tortuous nature of some of the supply chains which makes traceability so much more difficult. Also at every stage someone is taking their ten cents out and either making it more expensive to the end user or cutting into farmers’ margins.

“Farmers felt hacked off because for so long we have been promoting wholesome, nutritious, locally sourced and quality assured food yet these roads sought to undermine us.”

He is optimistic that consumers’ enthusiasm for buying British and quality assured food will remain, and that people are prepared to pay a little extra to ensure they do so.

Mr Longthorp said: “Waitrose increased its market share throughout the recession which is the reverse of what you’d think. There is a certain section of the market who are buying more high quality stuff.”

Earlier this week, Andrew Opie, the British Retail Consortium’s director of food and sustainability, said: “Retailers source the vast majority of products like milk, butter, eggs, carrots, potatoes and beef here in the UK and our members give clear country of origin on both fresh meat and processed meat products so that consumers can choose to buy British if that’s what they want.”