Traditional English field vegetable production is in decline because of changes in consumer tastes and the growth of pre-prepared food.
The country’s planted area shrank 22% from 159,000 hectares to 124,000 in the decade to 2003 - and is still falling, said Andy Abel, divisional agriculture manager of HSBC.
Abel told a vegetable conference in Peterborough that UK self-sufficiency fell from 81% to 62% in volume terms, while value had fallen from 62% to 44%. Home-
produced sales were worth £974m in 2003 compared with imports of £1.3bn.
Horticultural Development Council chairman Colin Harvey said crop scientists and growers should work closer together on marketing benefits. He said HDC could also play a role in helping growers in their dealings with category managers.