David Clarke, a founding member of Red Tractor Assurance, has been honoured with a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Set up in 2000 after the reputation of British food and farming had been devastated by a decade of food scares, Mr Clarke was the organisation’s first chief executive and led the scheme for 17 years. During his tenure Red Tractor grew from nothing to the UK’s leading assurance scheme with 46,000 farm businesses in membership and £14bn of food bearing the Red Tractor logo.
The post was the final piece of a 50-year career spanning food and farming which saw him established as one of the UK’s leading authorities on food assurance. He first worked in manufacturing in the Wall’s Meat Company before a 22-year stint in food service with the Forte Group in technical support and supply chain management roles.
“Providing people with safe, nutritious and affordable food is an enterprise with fundamental importance and it has been a privilege to work in food and farming for nearly five decades,” Mr Clarke said.
“My position with the Red Tractor scheme in the latter part of my career was especially rewarding. I think this honour only serves to underline the importance of this national initiative to ensure good standards of production across the UK supply chain from farm to retail shelf.”
Armed with a small budget and a handful of staff, Mr Clarke grew Red Tractor to a business built on transparency, honesty and reliability. He overcame government bureaucracy, industry politics and major media events such as the horsemeat scandal while convincing farmers, processors and retailers of the value of the Red Tractor logo.
“The future and especially Brexit will bring new challenges and opportunities for the Red Tractor team but I am confident they will be up to the task. Anything I have achieved was only possible with the help and support of the team and a wide range of colleagues across the industry. I am grateful to the many friends I worked with through the journey.”
Privately, Mr Clarke works tirelessly in his local community collecting and raising thousands of pounds for charity, most notably St Raphael’s Hospice in Sutton.
A CBE is the highest Order of the British Empire honour the Queen can bestow and Mr Clarke will receive his accolade in the New Year.