The old adage that the world is full of contradictions is as true today as ever, not least in the fresh produce industry.
For example, there is wide concern about the effects of transport on the environment. This has led to calls for reductions in food miles and a greater emphasis on locally produced fresh produce.
However, the competition between retailers in the UK is intense and comparative retail prices are viewed as crucial.
Many consumers regard price as a key determinant in where they shop, while the government is concerned to encourage lower prices to control inflation.
Meanwhile, there are continual demands from overseas countries for more access to western markets.
All these factors encourage the sourcing of products globally and inexpensively.
Instinctively in the western world, most support the principles of free trade: we resent bureaucracy, interference by government and meddling by official bodies. The economist Adam Smith stated that a fundamental of free trade is that goods should be produced wherever in the world the combined costs of production and delivery to market are lowest.
But is this what society really wants? After all, what might be cheapest financially, may carry heavy costs in terms of environmental and social impact. Some are already expressing concerns about living and working conditions overseas, and the ability of home producers to survive in the face of low cost production in other countries.
What we need is more clarity about the real wishes of society and agreement about those matters where controls are required. Only then is it possible to frame regulations and put in place corrective actions.
If this first step has not been accomplished, all that follows will be flawed and overall dissatisfaction will be inevitable.
Indeed, much criticism of the code of practice stems from a failure to identify those areas where controls are actually required.
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