Consultation on cross sector quality scheme

An industry consultation on whether levy money should be used to adopt a single cross quality scheme such as the Red Tractor has been welcomed by the meat sector.

Announcing the launch of the consultation on Monday Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) chairman John Bridge said: "For some months the Board has been looking at product differentiation through the use of a cross-sector quality scheme as a potential part of levy-funded marketing activity.

"During this process we have talked with various parts of the supply chain and employed independent brand consultants to help inform our thinking.

"We are now very keen to understand the views of all our stakeholder organisations and to provide them with the opportunity to help inform the AHDB Board and our Sector Boards in our decision on this important area."

Mick Sloyan, chief executive of BPEX, said: "BPEX has always used quality mark as a means of differentiating British pork. This consultation contains some interesting points which we will be examining closely over the next month to come up with a reasoned response.'

Anna Farrell from EBLEX said: "The consultation is a opportunity for all industry organisations and interested parties across all the agricultural sectors to put forward their views on levy payer support of a cross sector quality mark. EBLEX has a differentiation strategy in the form of the Quality Standard Scheme, and we will wait and see how stakeholders respond to the questions outlined in the AHDB consultation."

Stuart Roberts, director of the British Meat Processors Association gave the consultation a slightly more enthusiatic thumbs-up. "This is a good opportunity for all in the industry to come up with a strategy for a quality mark," he said. "For too long there's been too much energy disagreeing about marks rather than delivering benefits to the British livestock and meat industry."

The National Farmers Union also welcomed AHDB move and said it was no secret that the NFU supports an all sector approach to the promotion of the industry standards of production in the agriculture and horticulture industries.

"The Red Tractor now appears on some £7.5bn worth of food and as the architects of the logo we believe that it provides the right platform for the introduction of a single quality framework, but which is flexible enough to enable individual sectors to continue to pursue their own promotional activities under the Red Tractor umbrella brand."

The six-week consultation, which closes on Friday 31 October 2008, provides background information on the subject area and asks industry for its views

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