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Red Tractor UK updates labels to communicate welfare standards for chickens

Red Tractor has added a new range of marques to broaden its offer for shoppers and diners.

2 June 2020, at 7:54am

The Red Tractor scheme is launching a set of farming marques to help simplify the experience of shoppers and diners when they are buying food and drink.

Based on farming systems widely recognised by consumers, the new ranges will offer a one-stop solution for people looking for specific production methods for food that is also grown or reared to safe, traceable, high animal welfare and environmental standards.

At present, consumers are faced with a host of logos and claims on menus and on pack, which create duplication and cause confusion. For two decades, Red Tractor has fulfilled a mainstream demand for safe and affordable food. However, increasingly consumers are demanding a greater choice and for the scheme to clearly differentiate how some of the product carrying its label is produced.

Extensive UK and international research conducted by Red Tractor has helped develop the labelling system for the additional standards modules.

The new marques retain the union flag, the distinctive tractor with the heart in the wheel sitting on a "tick", but replaces the words Certified Standards from the core logo, with the farming method used. Each new marque will have its own colour:

Free range for chicken: Orange

Enhanced welfare for chicken: Purple

Organic: Green

Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley said: ‘“Grounded in the values of the Red Tractor scheme - animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection – this is an important broadening of the scheme which for 20 years has, and continues to, transform and build trust in British farming and food quality.

“Over the past 18 months we have been focused on how we can provide greater choice and clarity for those shoppers and diners who are looking to buy British produce grown and reared to recognised production methods, with the added confidence that it’s been checked every step of the way from farm to pack.

Free range chickens preening

“Red Tractor is uniquely positioned to be a valuable navigation tool, which safeguards the supply chain of retailers and foodservice brands and reduces the audit burden for farmers and processors. The new modular approach is supported by a clear and simple process, which could strip out some of the complexity from labels on pack and menus.

The new ranges will begin to roll out across food service and retail over the next 12 months. As with the core offering, accredited members will be required to meet robust specifications for the new ranges, which will be checked by independent assessors every step of the food’s journey from farm to pack.

The enhanced welfare for chicken is the first module to roll out and is already available in a limited number of retail outlets.

Enhanced Welfare for Chicken

The module has been developed in consultation with international industry experts, producers and key stakeholders in retail and foodservice.

In addition to the world-leading requirements already in the core Red Tractor standards, the module includes a slower growing chicken breed and more space and natural light in barns to encourage natural behaviours like pecking, scratching, wing flapping and use of perches. Stocking density is reduced from 38kg/m² to 30kg/m².

Jim added: “As the Agriculture Bill passes through the House of Lords, there’s perhaps no more important time for consumers to have real clarity about the food they buy. Red Tractor now provides even greater variety whatever the choice or budget. Underpinned by the safety and traceability of our core standards, the ‘Enhanced Welfare’ range uses selective breeds, such as those from the slower growing Hubbard portfolio, which are reared indoors and have more room to grow for longer.”

Tracey Jones, Director of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming said: “We are delighted with the introduction of the Red Tractor Enhanced Welfare module and marque for indoor chicken which meets the requirements of the Better Chicken Commitment.

“It is an important enabler for companies who want to source to this standard and the marque provides a clear visual identity which, along with the free range and organic labels, allows consumers to understand how their chicken was produced and make informed choices.

“We welcome the introduction of the Enhanced Welfare module as it will help companies across all sectors uplift their auditing and promote their higher welfare credentials to their customers.”

The Enhanced welfare module meets all the requirements of the 2026 Better Chicken Commitment/ European Chicken Commitment but is also underpinned by the world-leading safety and traceability benefits of Red Tractor. This Enhanced Welfare Module will complement the existing core standards and Free-Range chicken module.

Red Tractor will continue to examine which sectors would benefit from this modular approach.