Saturday 18th May 2024

Message from Christine Tacon:


I am very pleased to have been appointed to the Co-op Board in their latest elections, voted in by Co-opmembers. Having headed the Co-op’s farming operations between 2000 and 2012, the role is a very significant one for me.

However, this has created a dilemma with the other role to which I am deeply dedicated – that of Red Tractor Chair. Fulfilling these two roles in parallel, each of which requires 30-40 days per year, would ordinarily raise no concerns – indeed, Red Tractor Chairs almost always hold other positions in the food industry simultaneously. However, I am acutely aware of those with reservations about supermarket power in general, and a lack of trust in Red Tractor from some quarters that needs to be repaired.

Aware of these concerns, I raised my possible appointment proactively with Red Tractor’s Ownership Body and we mutually agreed it would be better for me to step down from Red Tractor if I got the Co-op role.

I would like to make it very clear that this is not a move I welcome in any way. I would have far preferred to carry on supporting Red Tractor at such a critical point. I am also confident I could have executed both roles without compromising either organisation. However, I do not want to risk giving oxygen to those intent on criticising Red Tractor or for this to be the cause of any negative publicity.

I have offered to the Ownership Body that I stay on at their discretion until a new or interim chair is appointed – this is an important time for Red Tractor as it works to improve transparency and audit efficiency, and better demonstrate value. I would also like to thank the excellent team at Red Tractor for their hard work and dedication. Expect an update from the Ownership Body in due course.

To conclude, I have worked in the UK food and farming sector for over 30 years. Despite current bumps in the road, Red Tractor is a unique and valuable asset to us all, from farm to fork. There are issues that need addressing, and believe me, this is happening. But it is incumbent on us all to see the enormous opportunities and value presented by Red Tractor and work together to ensure it is there for us all, for the future.