Regional development of local brands offers great potential for the fresh produce industry, but the absence of effective co-ordination between growers, local authorities and national government often prevents it from reaching full potential, MPs have been told.
George Miller, chairman of the Surrey Hills regional brand, due to be launched this summer, called for better understanding, at a seminar held in the House of Commons.
The brand had already taken two years to get off the gound, he claimed and had suffered as a result of the slow reaction at county council level.
Meanwhile the concept
continues to win the full backing of Food from Britain, with David McNair, chief executive, revealing that the second phase of a £3m boost for local branding projects was on target and expected to involve
more than 3,000 producers this year alone.
Graham Ward, chairman of the horticulture board of the National Farmers Union, pointed out that fulfilling the demand for regional food may force growers to consider reverting to mixed crop market gardening.
“People like me have advised or forced growers down one product specialisation and co-operation to achieve national delivery to supply supermarkets.
“So they now think we are mad when we say multi-cropping or local supply is the answer.” He also drew attention to the scale of business in providing fruit and vegetables under the government schools programme, which now took cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots.
He told growers that the scheme provided them with a lot of work. But he warned: “It will be foreign produce that will be used if you don’t do it.”
David Shapley