As a member of the Fruit and Vegetables Task Force, FPC welcomes the Government’s commitment to take on board the recommendations of the task force and will be monitoring closely progress as individual Departments consider these recommendations. FPC believes that an affordable variety of fresh fruit and vegetables is a vital element of a healthy diet and remains the keystone for helping people achieve 5 a day.
“We want to see that the fresh produce industry is not hampered by unnecessary regulatory burdens and has every opportunity to increase UK production and encourage greater consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Nigel Jenney. “The task force took on board the challenges of increasing production of indigenous crops and has included wide ranging recommendations, whilst recognising that we cannot be totally self-sufficient in all fresh produce.”
“It is vital that both the industry and Government play their part in encouraging people of all ages to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, which is the central objective of the task force. If we fail to do this future generations will suffer the effects of poor diet and obesity and there will be no increased market for UK production. Industry campaigns such as Eat In Colour demonstrate that fresh produce can be fun, easy to prepare and convenient. Fresh fruit and vegetables will always be the vital keystone for a healthy diet and we believe that the Government should continue to focus on fresh produce as the ultimate convenience food,” said Nigel.
FPC welcomed the task force’s recommendation that 5 a day should further promote potatoes as a healthy and vitamin rich carbohydrate.
FPC also identified to the task force the significant potential of the wholesale/food service sector, which accounts for a third of overall sales of fresh produce in the UK. FPC will be working with Nabma to provide guidance on how to maximise opportunities as part of the task force’s recommendations.
Another recommendation of the task force is to evaluate the Food Dudes programme. FPC is one of the original sponsors of Food Dudes and over the years has provided substantial funding and support.
“We are committed to the aims of this initiative and others, such as Eat In Colour and the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme, which provide benefits to young children. We support the work to evaluate the sustainability of the Food Dudes programme,” said Nigel.
“The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme demonstrates Value for Money principles which are the bedrock for public procurement. This is why we believe it is essential to maintain the central procurement strategy of the Scheme to promote healthy eating habits at an early age. Given that the Government has already made a clear policy decision to maintain the provision of free milk in primary schools, we do not see why a decision cannot be made to secure the future of the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme now as a national priority, including the retention of the central procurement strategy.”
The proposals made by the Task Force are:
Competitive supply base
- Make reference to food production in national planning policy and streamline planning requirements;
- Address issues of permanent immigration and seasonal labour availability and horticulture;
- Government recognition and support for the need for available water for horticulture;
- Review of approval process for non chemical means of control;
- Industry strategy to protect a unified well invested R&D facility;
- Abolish Agricultural Wages Board;
- Work with services like Business Link to provide appropriate advice and support to growers;
- Panel to champion financial needs of sector.
Efficient supply chain
- Levy boards to play a role in providing independent advice on the market and growing conditions;
- Clearer practical rules on operation of EU Fruit and Vegetables Aid scheme;
- Best practice in ordering timetables to be drawn up;
- Supply chain efficiency incentives;
- Produce a Guide to the Wholesale Sector;
- Extend Business Development Manager programme.
- Explore how to better use Change4Life to promote 5 A Day and potatoes;
- Evaluate Food Dudes programme;
- Promote best practice in whole category marketing campaigns;
- Include frozen fruit and vegetables in Healthy Start and promotions of healthy frozen/canned fruit and vegetables;
- Include ‘healthy’ composite foods in 5 A Day licensing scheme;
- Align VAT with fruit and vegetable consumption objective;
- Support Grow Your Own including proposals to make land available and gardening within schools.
For a copy of the report visit: http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/food/policy/partnership/fvtf/documents/100826-fvtf-report.pdf