The fresh produce industry has called on the government to roll out an educational programme that encourages kids to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Key producer organisations believe the Food Dudes programme, which was developed in Wales and is now being rolled out in schools across the Republic of Ireland, would work well alongside the Schools Fruit and Vegetable Scheme, which supplies schools with fresh produce.

Developed at Bangor University, the Food Dudes are four superheroes who always win the day against the Junk Punks gang.

Schools would be provided with Food Dudes DVDs and other educational material, while children would receive a variety of rewards for eating fruit and vegetables, such as stickers and certificates.

The NFU has publicly thrown its weight behind the scheme in a new report, Why Horticulture Matters.

"The NFU and the Horticultural Development Company are keen to see Food Dudes rolled out across Britain to educate children about fruit and vegetables, to help combat obesity and instil eating habits that will be carried into adulthood," it said.

Trials of Food Dudes in the Republic of Ireland over the past three years have been hailed a success and it will be now be rolled out across all schools.

"Food Dudes has changed the attitudes of children and families in Ireland," said Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples & Pears. "Under the scheme even kids vehemently opposed to fruit and vegetables become fans."

Earlier this year the Food Dudes in England Collaborative Group was formed by the Horticultural Development Company, School Food Trust and Bangor University with the aim of getting Food Dudes rolled out to as many schools as possible. The initiative is also backed by the Fresh Produce Consortium.