Collaborate for the future growth of the industry

by Jack Ward

British Growers Association chief executive, Jack Ward, on why fresh produce should join with other sectors to boost consumption

The following article appered in the Fresh Produce Journal and on their website as their "Opinion Piece" of the week

Michael Barker made some very interesting points about the fact that there’s not much happening in terms of a decent generic fruit and vegetable campaign right now, in the last issue of this magazine.

It’s an issue which the crop associations that form part of British Growers Association, have debated at some length. Many of the growers’ associations run grower-funded crop-specific promotions, but there is always more that can be done.

But who should be responsible for a generic fruit and veg campaign? This is a tough call. The phrase ‘no taxation without representation’ springs to mind. Clearly if growers are going to fund something there is an expectation that they have a say in how the money is spent. But this probably needs to be tempered with an element of benign dictatorship to ensure tangible outcomes are achieved. The opportunity at the moment is for a more co-ordinated alliance of interests – the health industry working with the production side on a common message about the importance of a balanced diet, in which fruit and veg feature prominently. As an industry we probably need to have a wider debate around how this can be done, accept that you can’t keep all of the people happy all of the time and then get on and make something happen. Other sectors have achieved this.

There have been some great examples of consumer behaviour-changing campaigns, both here and abroad. The National Recycling Campaign for England helped to change the way people thought about recycling, while the ‘Go for 2 & 5 Campaign’ in 2005 in Australia helped Australian families to increase daily consumption of fruit and vegetables.

One positive recent development we have seen is that the EU Promotion Fund has now awarded €142,000 to The British Leafy Salads Association (BLSA) to extend its current promotional campaign. Together with matched funding from growers and the AHDB, the campaign will see €290,000 invested in its ‘Healthy Choice’ campaign to promote the full range of wholehead, prepared and bagged salads over the next two years to schools and younger households.

The overriding need is to look at how the UK’s fresh produce industry as a whole can work closely with the EU Promotion Fund and the UK government to secure significantly more funding to create a well thought-out, pan-industry initiative to keep fruit and veg firmly in the public eye.

What we need is some joined-up thinking and trade associations working together with all parts of the retail chain to form a new government campaign, in a similar format to Change4Life.

We need industry, government, retailers and the National Health Service (NHS) to work closely together to create a fully integrated, consumer behaviour-changing fruit and vegetable campaign.