Ready meals to be stamped with a Red Tractor logo to boost consumer confidence

The new logo will indicate that 100 per cent of the meat in ready meals can be traced back to UK farms

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The Independent Online

Ready meals are to be stamped with the Red Tractor logo to reassure shoppers about the origins of the meat they contain.

The distinctive red logo, which was introduced 14 years ago, is only carried on food products that reach certain standards of animal welfare and can be traced back to British farms.

It has never previously been used on ready meals or convenience foods because their ingredients list was deemed too complicated.

But in the wake of last year’s horsemeat scandal, the new logo will indicate that 100 per cent of the meat used in ready meals and pies meets Red Tractor standards.

Consumer confidence in chilled foods plummeted after horsemeat DNA was found in burgers and a range of ready meals found on supermarket shelves.

18 billion ready meals were binned in the aftermath of the scandal and sales have still not bounced back a year on.

David Clarke, chief executive of Red Tractor, said concern about the contamination of products had contributed to the drive to develop the new stamp.

He said: “The new 'Made With' logo has been in development for some time and although it isn't a direct reaction to horsemeat, the events that unfolded in 2013 certainly made us look at it even more seriously.”

Despite falls in sales, the UK still spends £2.5 billion on convenience food each year, according to research by consumer experts Kantar Worldpanel.

Supermarket chain Asda will launch the logo on its chilled beef ready meals later this month and there are plans to roll it out to other products over the rest of the year.

Ade McKeon, Asda brand director, said: "We're proud to have worked with Red Tractor on a project of this kind.

"Our customers tell us that it's important for them to know exactly where their food comes from, so we're delighted that from February 2014 we will be the first retailer to have the Red Tractor stamp of approval on all our chilled beef ready meals."

Research carried out by Red Tractor suggested that more than half of shoppers are more likely to buy products like ready meals and pies if they featured the Red Tractor logo.

Some 78,000 farms are part of the Red Tractor Assurance scheme, which was launched by Tony Blair in 2000.