Announcing plans for a fifth major upgrade since the farm assurance scheme was first introduced in 2000, chief executive Jim Moseley said further change was needed to keep up with consumer expectations.
“If we don’t evolve and don’t meet consumer demands, they will disregard Red Tractor and probably buy more on price,” he said.
“Similarly, because many retailers, caterers and brands use Red Tractor as part of their buying specification, it is quite possible that without it they would create their own standards, do their own inspections, and would have less reason to support British.”
The consultation, launched on Tuesday 5 January, follows a year of discussions with all parts of the food chain and seeks further “evolution” across the scheme’s six sectors: beef and lamb, poultry, pigs, dairy, fresh produce and combinable crops/sugar beet.
Defending the timing of the consultation, which comes at a time of unprecedented uncertainty for farmers and growers, Mr Moseley said consumer demands have changed significantly over the past four years and Red Tractor needs to keep pace.
The Red Tractor’s head of external affairs, Philippa Wiltshire, added that many farmers will already be delivering most of the proposed changes to standards, so they will not incur extra costs.