18/12/2017 – News / UK / Europe / Brexit / Agriculture / Fruit / Vegetables / Health
UK urged to boost domestic fruit and veg harvest
A new report entitled ‘Farming for 5-A-Day’, published by the Food Foundation, has called on the UK government to link horticulture and health in a crucial opportunity to form a new Agriculture Bill that supports farmers, ordinary families and the NHS after Brexit.
The report, which examines the potential impact of different Brexit scenarios on fruit and veg prices, shows that UK residents could be spending at least £150 (US$198) more on fruit and veg per year, and raises concerns for the 92 per cent of teenagers in the UK already struggling to get their five-a-day. The report forms part of the Food Foundation’s ‘Peas Please’ initiative, which looks at supply-side barriers to vegetable consumption. Peas Please brings together farmers, retailers, fast food and restaurant chains, caterers, manufacturers and government departments with the common goal of making it easier for everyone to eat more veg.
Genuine public good for public money
Farming for 5-A-Day shows that a triple impact of exchange rates, labour costs and tariffs mean that those on a low income, such as the one in five people earning below the Real Living Wage, will be impacted the most. In a ‘No-Deal’ scenario, price rises would mean the poorest 10 per cent of the population could spend half of their entire food and drink budget to meet current government guidance for fruit and veg. Low earning Brits already consume, on average, one portion less of fruit and veg each day compared to more wealthy households, but very few eat enough and the treatment of diet-related disease is crippling the NHS.
The report, which groups fruit and veg as Hardy Heroes, Brexit Boosters and Channel Hoppers depending levels of UK self-sufficiency, explains the opportunity Ministers have to develop a policy which deliberately sets out to benefit the nation’s health. Included are a number of potential measures for the forthcoming Agriculture Bill that offer genuine public good for public money. The report identifies 16 of the nation’s 50 favourite fruit and veg that could be grown more in the UK, meaning less reliance on imports and more competitive prices. It also suggests actions that could be included in the Agriculture Bill to drive up supply and demand of British produce.
“The government faces a clear choice to boost British harvests of fruit and veg or the NHS will reap the consequences,” said Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation. “Five-a-day needs fresh ideas, and an Agriculture Bill which increases supply and demand of British fruit and veg is a huge opportunity. It is absolutely crucial that the government grabs the bull by the horns before the Brexit boat sails.”
“British growers of fruit and veg are being squeezed by difficulties in securing labour and limited demand from British consumers,” said John Shropshire, Chairman of international farming business G’s Fresh. “The Agriculture Bill provides an opportunity to boost the sector to deliver more for the economy and the health of the nation.”
“The Agricultural Bill is a major opportunity to help fruit and veg growers, as well as helping consumers to get their five-a-day,” said Kerry McCarthy MP. “The risks that the industry face are too huge to miss this vital moment.”