By Jim Moseley, CEO, Red Tractor

The pandemic has brought food supply into sharp focus – perhaps more so than any other time since World War 2. It has changed the way consumers are buying food, with floods of consumers going direct to farm gates and smaller outlets to avoid the crowds, find a scarce product and purchase what they perceive to be higher welfare products. It also garnered increased support for British Farmers, as they stepped up to help feed the nation.

As the lockdown eases and restaurants, cafes and other food outlets begin to open, the focus on where and how food is produced will only continue.

With over 46,000 British farmer members of the scheme and approximately 75% of UK agricultural output Red Tractor Assured, we are the UK’s largest food and farming scheme. Membership provides a route to market to some of the UK’s largest food services customers, restaurant chains, pubs and supermarkets– resulting in over £14 billion of British produced food and drink carrying the logo.  Because of this, our mission is very clear- to ensure people have access to safe, affordable, and responsibly sourced food, by protecting the integrity of the food chain and British agricultural standards.

This month, we’ve unveiled a new suite of marques to be rolled out over the next 12 months, which are designed to broaden our offer for people buying food out of home and at supermarkets. Farmers are now able to sell their products through Red Tractor under whichever scheme they choose. The first of these new marques is Enhanced Welfare for chicken.

The new colour-coded logos are based on farming systems widely recognised by consumers like Free Range and Organic, will offer a one-stop solution for businesses looking to source food and drink that is also grown or reared to safe, traceable, high animal welfare and environmental standards.

The standards have been created to safeguard the supply chain of foodservice brands and reduces the audit burden for both farmers and processors. The new modular approach is supported by a clear and simple process, which could strip out some of the complexity on menus. As an extension to the Red Tractor core standards, we anticipate that Enhanced Welfare can be rolled out across foodservice and meet demand, making it an affordable, higher welfare option for consumers and an economically viable sourcing choice.

So what is Red Tractor Enhanced Welfare Chicken?

The Enhanced welfare module was developed in consultation with international industry experts, producers and key stakeholders across foodservice and retail. It meets all the requirements of the 2026 Better Chicken Commitment. Slower-growing chicken breeds, more space and natural light provided in barns to encourage natural behaviours like pecking, scratching, wing flapping and use of perches, and a reduction in the number of birds that are allowed in the barns are all measures that are part of this module.

The International farm animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) have praised our decision to introduce these standards commenting that, ‘It is an important enabler for companies who want to source to this standard.  The marque provides a clear visual identity which 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.’

It was important to develop these new modules because at Red Tractor we believe passionately that hard-pressed and time-poor Brits shouldn’t have to work hard to buy quality food they can trust, whatever their budget.

Looking for the Red Tractor is an easy way for people to buy food which is so much more than being British. It signifies that the food has been checked every step of the way from farm to pack, has been produced safely, responsibly sourced and carefully farmed.

By putting Red Tractor on your menu, you can help foster a better future for British agriculture, farmers, growers and producers.