UK fresh produce industry can grow with the right support

by Peter Crowe

The British Growers Association has responded positively to the Government’s consultation on its future agricultural policy. Replying to Defra’s ‘Health and Harmony’ consultation paper, the Association has outlined a future in which it believes there are extensive opportunities to improve competitiveness, increase profitability and increase market share for British growers.

Chair of British Growers, Jason Burgess said: “Given the right support and encouragement we believe that the UK fresh produce industry can improve its competitiveness, develop new technologies and drive growth in some markets. Food sales in this country represent a huge market of £200 billion, and it doesn’t take much movement in a market of that size to make a big difference. In particular, there are a number of sectors where we are a long way from being self-sufficient and there is room to grow the UK industry share of these markets.”

The response points out that although the fresh produce sector has not been a major beneficiary, the limited support provided through the EU Fruit and Vegetable Regime has made an impact and, in some cases, been transformational. 

Jason Burgess said: “On the one hand, if the government does not provide the kind of support for innovation and collaboration that has been provided by Europe in the past, British growers will be at a disadvantage compared to European growers. On the other hand, relatively modest investment by Government in the future can help innovation, collaboration and research and development which will bring benefits in terms of both productivity and sustainability.”

 

Other areas covered by the response document include the need to ensure a future immigration framework that will be in the best interests of the UK, while allowing the fresh produce industry access to the labour it requires; and a commitment to mandatory reporting of price and volume data in order to protect the interests of smaller processors and producers.