News that the European Commission had granted State Aid approval of a promotional scheme to support the quality foods covered by the Red Tractor scheme – and that levy monies could be used to fund essential promotion of Red Tractor – led to speculation that existing assurance schemes would be replaced by the Red Tractor quality assurance logo.
EBLEX has now moved quickly to clarify the matter, with newly-appointed director Nick Allen reassuring members of the EBLEX Quality Standard Mark scheme that the scheme remains and will continue to be supported.
“EBLEX understands the important role butchers and independent suppliers play. We will continue to work with both our scheme members and those who are licensed by Assured Food Standards to use the Red Tractor, to exploit the market opportunities for quality-assured beef and lamb through all trade sectors, including export markets,” said Allen.
The Red Tractor is already carried on qualifying packs of assured beef and lamb throughout the vast majority of the supermarket trade and, with State Aid approval for Red Tractor, EBLEX (and other levy boards within the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) will be able progressively to deploy levy money in support of the Red Tractor as new marketing and promotional material is produced over the coming months.
“We have a close collaborative working relationship with AFS and especially their Beef and Lamb sector board, and the licensing infrastructure for the Red Tractor is still being developed to extend its reach effectively into non-supermarket sectors. We are looking forward to working with AFS on this project, but in the meantime, the QSM scheme will be there to support that valued part of the trade,” Allen added.
He pointed out that while there are differences between the two schemes – the EBLEX scheme contains certain criteria not included in the Red Tractor scheme – they were essentially complementary and that EBLEX would be working closely with AFS to ensure the best quality assurance solutions for all sectors of the trade.