UK beef farmers do have world-leading standards, AHDB confirms

Red Tractor's beef and lamb standards are higher than Australian and New Zealand's, report says
Red Tractor's beef and lamb standards are higher than Australian and New Zealand's, report says

Claims from British beef and lamb producers that they have ‘world-leading’ standards appear to be correct, a new AHDB report has confirmed.

Published today (17 April), the report compares the UK's Red Tractor food assurance scheme with Australia's Livestock Production Assurance and New Zealand’s Farm Assurance Programme.

In the study, which was conducted by independent consultant Jonathan Birnie, Red Tractor's standards were found to be higher in all areas except biosecurity and disease control.

However, this raises concerns that lower farm assurance standards in Australia and New Zealand, two of the UK’s most recent trading partners, could be giving them an unfair commercial advantage.

Red Tractor CEO Jim Moseley welcomed the report, as well as confirmation of the leading standards farmers are meeting, but said the findings made it even more important to differentiate on quality and provenance.

He said: “The good news is that Red Tractor's own independent research consistently finds that Red Tractor assured beef and lamb is the first choice for UK consumers.

"Red Tractor is also a key reason why the majority of UK supermarkets pursue 'British first' sourcing strategies in their fresh meat ranges.

“Certainly, the report gives UK processors a stronger position from which to compete with New Zealand and Australian product on the retail market in the UK and in those export markets, where production standards are the key buying criteria.”

Data by AHDB suggests that since the beginning of 2022, there has been a consistent and positive price differential between the UK's deadweight farmgate pricing compared with New Zealand and Australia.

Currently that differential is at a peak with UK lamb almost three times higher than both countries and UK beef at just over 50% more than Australia's.

Mr Moseley continued, saying that the report raised important points that the industry needed to take on board to deliver value and opportunities back to British farmers for their higher standards.

"What we have to do is make sure that when there’s British supply, retailers are stocking it and shoppers are buying it," he said.

AHDB will release the three other international benchmarking against Red Tractor standards later in the year.

These will include European countries such as Ireland, and in beef and lamb producing countries in the Americas.