It's time to reconnect the link between ­producers and wholesale markets, says Helen Evans, communications manager at Covent Garden Market Authority

I challenge any visitor walking through New Covent Garden Market's Buyers Walk not to be knocked out by the quality of the produce from all around the world. But there is one small issue that niggles every time I walk past a wonderful display of vegetables and fruit brought in the previous night from, for example, France. And that is that I don't always see the same quality or presentation from UK-grown produce.

I don't for a moment claim that UK produce is inferior to that imported from Europe or elsewhere. It most certainly is not - the best of British can happily compete with produce from anywhere else in the world. But some UK growers seem to view wholesale markets as a clearing house for produce that retailers don't want. It can be lower standard and poorly packed.

And that is a great shame. It is a shame because the growers are missing an important alternative channel of distribution; and it is a shame because the quality end of the foodservice sector in London is not seeing the best that the UK can offer.

Growers are missing a trick at a time when the message about using seasonal produce is being pushed by many top chefs; when demand for traditional British recipes using British produce is growing; and when debates about air miles and traceability are going on all around us.

Wholesale markets are not for everyone, whether producer or supplier, but they are nonetheless a vital part of the overall food distribution chain. In London alone, they supply some 20% of the city's fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. Nearly 40% by value of fruit and vegetables eaten out in the capital is sourced from New Covent Garden Market.

Wholesale markets certainly do not handle the volumes of produce that they did 30 years ago - the world has moved on. But so have the wholesale markets, and it's time that UK growers thought again about their focus on retail. The majority of sales at New Covent Garden Market are into foodservice - a sector that is growing year-on-year.

Continental producers have kept their contacts with wholesale markets and are able to supply in the quantities and at the quality level that is demanded in the 21st century. Maybe it's about time that the UK managed to reconnect the link in the distribution chain between producers and wholesale markets?