Tacon, who was previously Groceries Code adjudicator, will take up the role on 1 January 2021. She replaces Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe, whose tenure in the post ended in November.
Responding to the announcement, Stuart Roberts, deputy president of the National Farmers Union said: “Christine Tacon ... brings a wealth of industry experience to the Red Tractor table from across the food and farming sectors and from her work with Government in her recent role as Groceries Code Adjudicator.
“Having worked closely with Christine as the GCA, Red Tractor will benefit hugely from her strong leadership, collaborative relationships that she works so hard to develop, and an ability to drive the industry forward. The NFU looks forward to working closely with Christine and Assured Food Standards at a critical time for UK food and farming as we look towards life outside the EU.”
Tacon worked as an engineer before moving into marketing at organisations including Mars and Anchor (now Fonterra).
She ran the Co-operative Group’s farming business for more than ten years, and in 2004 was awarded a CBE for services to agriculture.
Chair, BBC Rural Affairs Committee
Tacon currently serves as chair of the BBC Rural Affairs Committee and MDS, a management training scheme for the food and fresh produce industry. She is also a director of the AF Group, a £250m purchasing co-operative for agri-businesses.
Until October 2020, Tacon was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice by large grocery retailers in their dealings with direct suppliers.
“I’m really looking forward to joining Red Tractor,” said Tacon. “This role builds on my experience in farming, the food chain, working with government and most of all with consumers.
“With uncertainty on standards of food imported into the UK post-Brexit, this is a great time to be working on British standards and ensuring they are fit for purpose for all its stakeholders.”
A spokesperson for the ownership body of Red Tractor, comprising the farming unions, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Dairy UK and the British Retail Consortium, said: “This is a pivotal time for UK agriculture, with the UK’s departure from the EU and the uncertainties of future trade deals.
“Christine’s proven credentials, and a career that spans across the supply chains of food and farming, will be an enormous asset in helping Red Tractor fly the flag for our industry and to deliver on its core purpose to reassure consumers.”
The spokesperson added: “Red Tractor’s standards are the bedrock of British agriculture. They have helped establish UK’s food and farming industry as the benchmark for quality across the world.
“Now more than ever is the time to demonstrate strong leadership, to protect the integrity of the food chain and the agricultural standards that we have built up in Britain over the decades.”