chair of the NFU Horticulture Board talks to Caterer and Hotelkeeper
about the NFU Campaign: Make it British, Make it Local, Make it Happen!
NFU talks to 4,000 growers producing nine million tonnes of more than
300 different types of fruit and vegetables – so there’s undoubtedly an
exciting array of home grown produce available to chefs and caterers in
the UK. 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 conditions, 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, due 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
How have we ended up here? Well, in response to the
growth of the major supermarkets over the past decade, UK growers and
intermediaries have understandably intensified their focus on the retail
market. However, this focus has perhaps been at the expense of
developing links with other customers at home and abroad.
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.
Furthermore, by developing relationships
with chefs and the food service sector, I believe there is great
potential to displace some of the produce we currently import by
encouraging growers to plant more of the exotic, niche 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.
So make it Make it British, Make it Local, Make it Happen!