Food provenance group sets out aim to ’empower the consumer’
Happerley has created a trade network that provides certification for food suppliers by tracing their products right back to the primary producer.
The Happerley Advisory Board at Gloucester Services. From left: Chris Crookall-Fallon (Co-op Futures); Sian Edmunds (Burges Salmon); Peter Jinman OBE (chair); Matthew Rymer (Happerley founder); Clifford Freeman (Gloucester Beef); Adam Henson; Tim Bennett (former head of Food Standards Agency and past president of NFU); Will Bennett (Director, Dairy Partners); Phil Ponsonby (CEO Midcounties Co-op)
The advisory board of a food provenance organisation working with consumers and the industry have committed to the creation of a body that can validate, certify and promote provenance across the country.
During Happerley’s inaugural advisory board meeting on January 12, members agreed unanimously to work towards the creation of a member-owned entity that could manage food provenance validation and certification.
The board counts among its members former Chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Tim Bennett and TV presenter and farmer Adam Henson. It is chaired by Peter Jinman OBE, a former non-executive director of Assured Food Standards (Red Tractor).
He said: “The consensus across our board and beyond is now very clear. There is both an urgent need and opportunity to empower consumers to know the journey of their food with absolute confidence, and for every business in that supply chain, from farmer up, to benefit. There is the will, the demand and the technology.”
Happerley founder, Matthew Rymer, saw the commitment as an important milestone. He said: “Marketing, packaging, disingenuous labelling and a confusing array of often self-serving standards all undermine consumer confidence and provenance premium. Turn provenance transparent and you have the currency of truth.
“My intention was always to deliver this as a legacy project. I am grateful to have such a strong board advising on these next critical steps.”
Mr Henson, added: “There was real passion around the table for this project. I always say the best ideas start on a farm but it is rather fitting this one did.
“The truth of all our food starts in soil or sea somewhere. The problem for everyone is that truth gets too often obscured by the time it reaches shelf or plate. These next months will be critical but there is a real sense now that the consumer wants to know not an interpretation of where and how their food is produced, but to see the whole truth.”
Phil Ponsonby, CEO (Trading) of Midcounties Co-operative, is also on the board. He said: “Midcounties Co-operative is committed to supporting Happerley. We are not only facilitating technology pilots but we now plan to appropriate additional resources to deliver considerable consumer engagement in and out of our stores across our region in the months to come. Transparency is at the core of our ethos and we see considerable potential for this project.”