NFU launches horticulture growth strategy against the backdrop of empty shelves
1st March 2023
As the nation continues to grapple with shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables, the NFU has today (1st March) launched its growth strategy for UK horticulture, which could be the solution to minimising future supply chain disruption if backed by government.
The strategy outlines the top ten priorities which underpin the success of the sector, enabling long-term growth and ensuring the fresh supply of produce on supermarket shelves:
- Access to labour
- Access to affordable and sustainable energy supplies
- Access to crop protection
- Access to water
- Productivity investment
- Fairness in the supply chain
- Access to environmental funding schemes
- Access to sustainable growing media
- An enabling planning policy
- Enabling import controls for plants and plant products
NFU President Minette Batters emphasized the importance of government support in order for the strategy to be successful: “We have an ambitious horticulture sector that wants to produce more of the fresh food the nation loves but this ambition needs the full support of government.
“That’s why today we are setting out the key priorities needed to stabilise the challenges facing the sector in the short term and help to deliver long-term growth and a thriving, world-class horticulture sector in the future.”
She said the NFU have been warning the government about the shortages for months, which is a consequence of growers being undervalued and not receiving viable returns on their produce.
“Without urgent action there are real risks that empty shelves may become more commonplace as British horticulture businesses struggle with unprecedented inflationary pressures, most notably on energy and labour costs,” Ms Batters warned.
“As outlined in our strategy, the horticulture sector can deliver more than nutritious food; growers are well placed to contribute to energy security for the nation and help to reach the industry’s net zero by 2040 target. To meet this ambition, government must deliver on the levers for growth in the sector it highlighted in its Food Strategy last summer.”
NFU horticulture and potatoes board chair Martin Emmett also called on the government to take prompt action to resolve the ongoing food crisis. “For too long, we’ve only had warm words from government about how important the horticulture sector is but no detail on how it wants to achieve growth.
“Our strategy sets out the key cornerstones and actions government could take to enable growth for the sector, including incentives to promote investment in water infrastructure, long-term certainty on accessing seasonal labour, greater investment, and supportive national and local planning policy.
“The time to act is now. We need a government that champions UK horticulture and recognises the benefits that home grown fruit, veg, plants and flowers deliver for the economy, health and our environment, and with a plan to demonstrate a tangible commitment to growers,” he concluded.
More information about the strategy can be found here.