Fresh produce levy body the Horticultural Development Council has commissioned a confidential survey to establish the true size, nature and cost of the workforce employed by UK growers.
The survey was sent out this week to the HDC’s 3,000 members and is likely to prove of interest to ministers and retailers as it could reveal an accurate picture of dealings between growers and gangmasters.
Colin Harvey, HDC chairman, said: “We know surprisingly little about the people the industry employs.
“As a significant component of growers’ costs, it is vital that near-market R&D reflects the high labour input of horticulture. HDC will use the information produced to direct future research projects.”
The NFU said it had asked the HDC to carry out the project. Horticulture chairman Richard Hirst added: “The project aims to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the size and nature of the labour force across the different sectors. This will enable us to show the value that the horticultural sector gives to the rural economy.”
The findings of the survey are due to be published early next year.