THIS year's NFU conference in Birmingham opened with President Peter Kendall demanding a major change in the way our food is delivered.
Mr Kendall said that the horse meat scandal shows that a shift is necessary and that the reaction of consumers shows that people want their food to be produced as close to home as possible.
He told the conference in Birmingham: “This boils down to a clear and simple message: we need shorter supply chains which source from British farmers and growers.
“We must make that our collective ambition. But if British farmers are to deliver more of what the British consumer buys, it’s going to take a major shift in the way the food supply chain operates.”
A One Poll survey commissioned by the NFU showed that more than 86% of shoppers wanted to buy more traceable food, produced on British farms.
And 78% said they agreed or strongly agree that supermarkets should sell more food from British farms.
Mr Kendall said: “Farmers have been furious about what has happened.
“They have spent many years working to ensure the British supply chain is fully traceable from farm to pack and building strong principles which are embodied in assurance schemes like Red Tractor. For me this is fundamental for consumer confidence.
“But more than that, I want to see retailers working on rebuilding consumer trust, improving transparency and so partnership with farmers and the rest of the supply chain is critical. However, what we see currently in some sectors is real short-termism. The margin distribution in the supply chain needs more transparency and joined-up thinking to tackle the dual challenges of volatility and environmental pressures.
“Our research also demonstrates the demand for British-farmed products, and so retailers, processors and food service companies have a responsibility to ensure there is clear country of origin labelling on the products that consumers purchase. Fifty-one per cent told us they find the information on food origin either confusing or very confusing. This has to change.
“More needs to be done to make labelling clearer and the NFU lobbies hard on this issue. For consumers, I say be more demanding. Ask your retailers where the food they are selling comes from and look out for the Red Tractor logo carrying the Union flag to know the food is produced to good standards and traceable from farm to pack.”