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Supplier opinion – support your local farmers to save endangered British fruit and vegetables

22 March 2013 by
Supplier opinion – support your local farmers to save endangered British fruit and vegetables

Like me, the majority of British growers produce to world-leading farm assurance standards, guaranteeing stringent traceability, hygiene, quality and care, which are easily recognised by the Red Tractor logo on pack.

However, the horticulture industry in the UK faces an uncertain future as growers try to juggle the impacts of increasingly diverse weather, the increasing pressure from imports and the risks of unsustainable business practices that are passed down the supply chain by some buyers.

As a result, some well-loved British produce, including cucumbers, tomatoes, salad onions and mushrooms have been labelled as endangered, owing to a fall in home production at a time when consumer demand is increasing. Growers aren't seeing the returns they need to give them the financial confidence to invest.

Chefs and caterers spend £10b on food in the UK and that represents a great opportunity for growers to tap into an expanding home market and - in doing so - spread some of the risk we experience by focusing so heavily on the supermarkets.

Closer relationships with chefs and the food service sector will also increase the potential to displace some of the produce we currently import by encouraging growers to plant more of the exotic ingredients that chefs want to use.

We need to forge closer relationships with chefs and food service buyers, and by working with chefs' organisations we 
hope to improve that.
Sarah Dawson, chair of the NFU Horticulture Board

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