Food standards body to employ PR-led strategy

Assured Food Standards (AFS) has launched a national PR drive to build the profile of its Red Tractor logo.

The not-for-profit group, which promotes high-quality produce across the food supply chain in the UK and sets standards 'from farm to shelf', has taken on food specialist Touch PR to increase awareness of the symbol with consumers and retailers.

Head of marketing Beverly Wilson said the organisation had drawn up a comms strategy that focused on PR instead of  advertising.
'In 2005, the value of products using the Red Tractor logo rose above £5bn, but so far we haven't spent much money promoting our success,' said Wilson.

'With retailers, consumers and politicians paying more attention to food standards, now is the time to increase our profile.'

The new strategy has been in planning since comms responsibility for Red Tractor was moved from the National Farmers' Union to AFS at the beginning of 2005.

'Our research indicates that consumers care most about our integrity, the independence of our inspectors and the fact we cover the whole supply chain,' said Wilson. 'Touch has been briefed to reinforce the Red Tractor position as a food safety Kitemark and help us increase penetration.'

The organisation has used celebrity chefs such as Antony Worrall Thompson to promote the brand and last year Tesco used the Red Tractor logo. Budgens ran a campaign promoting its use of AFS-approved suppliers, while pub chain Slug and Lettuce and Country Life butter have used the logo.

Wilson said AFS was looking for more corporate tie-ins and aimed to increase its involvement with caterers and public sector food buyers.

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