PM to boost British fruit and veg sector - Fruit & Vine

Farm to Fork summit 2024 : PM to boost British fruit and veg sector

‘The UK needs to reduce its reliance on overseas fruit and vegetables and back British producers’ Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says as he sets out his blueprint for the Farm to Fork Summit 2024.

Farmers protest fruit and vegetables
Image credit: Unsplash

The PM told British farmers and growers that we must go further to support them and secure the nation’s food supplies.

Mr Sunak will also launch a review into the barriers the horticulture sector is facing to upscale their businesses.

He said: “Come rain or shine, I will always back British farmers.

“From feeding the nation to protecting our countryside, they’re vital to the security and the fabric of our country. This package of support will help farmers produce more British food.

“[It will] deliver on our long-term plan to invest in our rural communities and ensures the very best of our homegrown products end up on our plates.

“I know for many farmers, the impact of adverse weather in recent months has made working the land even harder, but my message is clear.

“Our support for you in unwavering and we will be with you every step of the way.

UK Annual Food Security Index

The first draft of the UK Annual Food Security Index will allow the government, industry and farmers to monitor impacts of external factors, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or extreme adverse weather events. 

It will set out the following:

  • How Government will track UK-wide food security on an annual basis
  • Monitoring domestic food production
  • Monitoring land use
  • Monitoring input costs and farmer productivity.

According to the index, the UK farming sector is at its most productive since records began. 

Fruit and veg

The new blueprint sets out plans to grow the UK fruit and vegetable sector in order to reinforce the country’s food security.

The Food Security Index highlights that the UK produces the equivalent of just 17% of fruit and 55% of the vegetables that end up on British plates.

This significantly lags behind meat, dairy and grains. 

“We’ll continue to invest in and support farmers to produce the best of British food to strengthen our food security, championing innovation in the sector.” – PM Rishi Sunak. Image credit : Pexels

Horticulture sector

The PM has also said he wants the government to help the horticulture sector to go further.

A new Horticulture Resilience and Growth offer, which will replace the retained EU scheme, will be rolled out.

Via the new scheme, the government will look to double the amount of funding given to horticulture businesses, to £80m a year.

It will also make £10m available to help English orchard growers, allowing them to access:

  • equipment
  • technology
  • infrastructure

A further £15m will be invested into Genetic Improvement Networks to help boost access to more resilient crop varieties, requiring fewer inputs, cutting farmer costs.


The past 18 months have been the wettest on record in England, severely hampering crop production, and putting further pressure on farmers.

The PM will set out how a £75 million fund to support internal drainage boards, will be used to protect agricultural land, including horticulture businesses, and rural communities from flooding.

A higher resilience to climate change will be helped via two funds. One for repairs, and the other to go towards building assets that boost resilience, such as pumping stations.

Richard Thompson, the new supply chain adjudicator, will ensure fairness in the supply chain is being effectively enforced. Image credit : Unsplash

British food

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay added: “Food security is vital to our national security, which is why today’s summit is so important.

“This announcement will turbocharge the growth of our horticultural sector supporting the building of cutting-edge glasshouses and innovative farming techniques to put British fruit and vegetables on our plates all-year round.  

“We’ll continue to invest in and support farmers to produce the best of British food to strengthen our food security, championing innovation in the sector.”

The Prime Minister also announced:

  • Up to £3 million towards supporting small and mobile abattoirs to support British farmers
  • Appointment of a Commissioner for the Tenant Farming Sector (CTFS) this autumn
  • A £72m fund to the Endemics Diseases Scheme, which will help eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea in cattle, control porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome in pigs and tackle a range of different health conditions in sheep
  • A £22m infrastructure grant for laying hens to help poultry farmers improve the health, welfare and productivity of their flocks

The government will also support farmers to get a fair price for their fresh produce, ensuring they have reasonable and transparent contracts. 

Richard Thompson, the new supply chain adjudicator, will ensure fairness in the supply chain is being effectively enforced. 

Last week, the Environment Secretary announced planned automation funding of up to £50m for farmers.

This was alongside an extension to the seasonal visa route for the next five years to ensure the sector has the labour it needs.

£220m will be injected into future-focused technology and productivity schemes to ensure farmers can access new equipment.

This will include a kit which increases automation to reduce reliance on overseas workers.

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