Assurance schemes & traceability
What are assurance schemes?
Assurance schemes set out a series of standards that must be met in order for a product (in this case grain) to be considered assured. Producers are audited to ensure they comply with the standards, and any non-conformances have to be rectified if a producer wishes to continue to be assured.
Is UK wheat assured?
All home-grown wheat used by UK flour millers is assured within one of the two main assurance schemes operating in the UK.
The largest of these is Red Tractor which has 18,000 arable members within a well-established scheme. nabim is represented on the Red Tractor Crops Board and has taken an active role in ensuring that standards fulfil the requirements of millers and meet food safety aspects. The system has a strong audit base which is under constant review and improvement.
A similar scheme operates mainly in Scotland which is Scottish Quality Crops (SQC). Scotland grows approximately 1% of the UK wheat crop and this is used for malting, flour milling and animal feed. Most of the milling wheat is used for biscuit making. Although 85% of the Scottish cereal crop is assured under SQC, flour millers will only source assured wheat.
There are several other assurance schemes such as the LEAF Marque and Soil Association schemes that are specific. Leaf Marque is a higher-level environmental standard which indicates that the crops have been grown under environmentally responsible Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles. Soil Association, Organic Farmers & Growers, and Organic Food Federation certification indicate that any organic product bearing their symbol has been certified. All certifying bodies must comply with national and EU standards.
Two other assurance schemes are relevant to wheat and flour production. The TASCC Assurance scheme and the Gafta scheme, GTAS. TASSC Assurance covers aspects relating to wheat merchants, stores and transport whereas GTAS tends to cover international trade aspects, storage at ports and transport.
Information about the main assurance schemes in the UK can be found at:
Red Tractor: www.redtractor.org.uk
Scottish Quality Crops: www.sqcrops.co.uk
Soil Association: www.sacert.org