A new campaign is calling for the government to bring in Brexit-related subsidies to help tackle inadequate fruit and veg consumption at the same time as giving a lifeline to homegrown producers.
The Food Foundation, Nourish Scotland and WWF launched a new initiative today to tackle the supply chain barriers they said were hitting veg consumption and leading to a reliance on imports.
The report comes as a quarter of secondary school age children are eating less than one portion of veg a day, according to official figures. This is despite new government guidance, which indicates we should be eating about seven portions of fruit and veg a day.
It also says there is an increasing reliance on imported goods, making up 42% of the veg we eat (up from 17% 30 years ago), with prices expected to start rising due to the drop in the value of sterling.
“The combination of higher food prices and pressure on UK horticulture production, in a situation where our children are already eating much too little veg, threatens to make our children’s diets even worse than they already are,” said Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor.
“The government now has an opportunity to re-think agricultural subsidies as we leave the European Union, and link them directly to supporting the public good.
“Scaling up investment in horticulture would be an excellent place to start. If we ate the amount of veg we should it would provide an opportunity for British growers to produce an additional 1.5 million tonnes of veg, creating employment opportunities and generating growth.”
NFU horticulture adviser Lee Abbey said: “Despite numerous government and industry initiatives to improve consumer diets, fruit and veg consumption simply hasn’t risen. Much more has to be done to make fruit and veg available whenever and wherever we buy our food and in the right format to satisfy today’s shopping habits. We need to build a supply chain that is fit for the future and works collaboratively from the supplier right through to the retailer. Consumers want to eat more fruit and veg and everyone in the food supply chain has a responsibility to enable them to do so.”