Imports are still having a huge impact on home grown produce, according to a new study by the City University London. Its research said that since 1990 production of lettuce has halved and has dropped by a quarter for tomato and mushroom production.
The report’s co-author Professor Tim Lang said supermarkets were partly responsible for the decline, because they had squeezed British growers and swapped to foreign companies with cheaper labour costs and that some retailers were changing preferences towards fruit and veg which is not grown in Britain.
City University’s Centre for Food Policy carried out the research and is the only university-based team in the developed world dedicated to examining policy frameworks that span the entire food supply chain.
An NFU comment said: “A lot of progress has been made since we launched Catalyst for Change three years ago, Aldi has become the first retailer to sign up to the NFU’s Fruit and Veg Pledge-our charter for best practice in the supply chain; there are some encouraging signals from other retailers seeking a longer-term deal with suppliers; and the Groceries Code Adjudicator is proving effective in curbing abuses of the Grocery Supply Code of Practice. Yet, the job is far from done. Growers are fearful that, under intense price pressure and competition for market share, retailers are regressing to short-term thinking. All of the recommendations we made in 2012 still apply today – and are captured by our Fruit and Veg Pledge.”