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Red Tractor in reverse?

Sainsbury’s decision to remove the Red Tractor logo from its own label packs was greeted with outrage by farming interests. The retailer said its action was based on research indicating that its consumers felt ‘confused’ by the presence of too many logos.

As 'Red Tractor Week' drew to a close at the end of September, with its annual celebration of British food, farming interests were shocked by the announcement that Sainsbury had made a decision to withdraw the Red Tractor logo from all its own label ranges. This news followed other recent setbacks for the scheme, as the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a Compassion in World Farming complaint, about a ‘high welfare’ claim for Red Tractor assured pork.

Sainsbury said that their decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from packs was based on recent consumer research in which many consumers said they were ‘confused’ by the presence of too many logos on food packaging. The company said that Red Tractor assurance standards would continue to play a part in their sourcing policies and also highlighted the fact that many product lines were sourced to higher standards, such as Freedom Food.

The Sainsbury move was widely reported in the trade press:

Meat Management
Meat Trades Journal
Farmers Guardian
Farmers Weekly

The decision was bitterly regretted by scheme organisers, Assured Food Standards , who pointed to their own research which indicated that nearly two thirds of consumers expressed strong support for the scheme.

The National Farmers Union said that dropping the logo would add to ‘confusion’ rather than reduce it and had recently launched their own 'Flag It' initiative, where consumers were encouraged to report examples of misleading labelling, where an indication of ‘British’ or home-produced was used in association with imported products.