As members will know, all homegrown wheat used by UK millers is assured under the Red Tractor scheme. This sets out a series of standards that farmers must meet, covering a range of aspects such as how grain is stored and how pesticides are applied to crops.
The standards are reviewed and updated every three years, and the latest review has just concluded, with the new set of standards applying from November 2021. UK Flour Millers was involved in the discussion and drafting of the new standards, putting forward the changes members told us they wanted to see.
The majority of these proposed changes were in relation to food safety aspects, such as prohibiting shooting over stored grain to address the problem of lead shot contamination. These standards are key to maintaining confidence in the safety of UK grain.
Not all standards relate to food safety however, as some set out the steps growers must take to ensure their impact on the environment is minimised. There were proposals for additions to these environmental protection standards – but ultimately the majority were not approved as there were significant concerns from growers that equivalent standards did not apply to imported grains and so they would be put at a competitive disadvantage.
We are now carrying out work to compare Red Tractor standards to those that apply to wheat imported from the main origins used by UK millers in Europe and North America. There will also be a webinar on June 18, open to all UK Flour Millers members, where we will receive a presentation from Jim Mosely, chief executive of Red Tractor, covering the standards and what they offer for the cereals sector, as well as how they compare against international competition. You can register for the event here.