Plans to create a ground-breaking independent food provenance centre to improve transparency in the sector in England have been unveiled.
Food provenance pioneer, Happerley, hopes the centre will stamp out food fraud and give power back to the consumer.
The UK already has a world-leading facility to investigate food fraud. The Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen's University Belfast is one of four global research institutes established to address key food issues - such as food fraud - internationally.
Assurance scheme and visitor centre
However, the Happerley centre, which will be based in Oxfordshire, will focus solely on domestic food challenges, with its aim to test the integrity of brands which have signed up to its assurance scheme.
Happerley England will also give farmers, suppliers and producers a platform to champion their ‘Gold Standard’ produce. Visitors to the centre can gain insight into the very best English food and drink production methods.
The marque will be accorded only to food and drink producers able to name the exact sources of their core ingredients back to the primary producers.
Whether it’s beef, cheese, coffee or bread, every core ingredient in Happerley England products will be instantly traceable back to the farms (or fishing boats) of its origin.
Food fraud costs the UK an alarming £12 billion a year; however, the real figure could be even higher with some estimating it to be as much as £60 billion.
Happerley’s founder and chief executive Matthew Rymer said: “Happerley England is a focus, a celebration and a centre for the very finest food and drinks that have complete provenance.
In too many cases, the consumer is being misled and to my mind, it should be a basic right and expectation for the consumer to know where the food and drink they’ve purchased has come from.
“The reality of food production is being smoke screened, you’d be surprised how many brands do not want to identify their supply chain. Happerley England stands for delivering honesty and communicating that on behalf of everyone; it is a beacon of transparency.”
Rymer was one of two farmers who set the company up in a bid to break down the disconnect between producer and consumer, and restore honesty and credibility to food provenance.
The event was hosted by TV presenter and farmer Adam Henson, who unveiled the plans alongside a panel of stakeholders and representatives.
He said: “This was a grassroots idea from a farmer who's got incredible vision and the momentum has gained a very fast pace to get to where it is today at this magnificent launch.
This is a legacy for Happerley - even if a business can’t turn Happerley Transparent straight away, it stimulates conversation and that is so important. This will pull the whole of society together.
Qing Lin, chief executive of Join In China, a Chinese food and drink agency, was on the discussion panel and explained how Happerley England will become a procurement requirement for food and drink exports to the Chinese market, securing British advantage in this fast growing market post-Brexit.
She said: “The Chinese love anything that is made in the UK so this is a fantastic opportunity for small producers to sell their products to the Asian market.
"Being able to prove the traceability and provenance of their products will give them an extra unique selling point when tapping into the Chinese market."