The claim comes as Defra has published the Fruit and Vegetable Task Force' recommendations.
The task force was set up last year by the Government to identify ways of boosting the production and consumption of the UK’s edible crops.
The report identifies four targets to encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables:
- making produce more available and more convenient;
- providing value for money;
- maintaining a high standard of quality and taste; and
- building up a competitive supply base and an efficient supply chain.
The Task Force was asked to put forward practical proposals for action, their response focuses on:
- Removing regulation;
- Sustaining R&D capability;
- Improving skills and attracting new entrants in to the industry;
- Encouraging collaboration;
- Improving supply chain relationships;
- Expanding market opportunities;
- Improving existing Government behaviour change campaigns;
- Encouraging industry promotions;
- Aligning VAT with the 5 A Day objective; and
- Supporting Grow Your Own.
Food Minister Jim Paice said:
"We produce some of the best fresh food that you can buy, right here in England. We can’t grow all the fruit and vegetables people want to eat, but increasing consumption and increasing home production is not just good for people’s health, it will develop the market opportunities and the confidence of our growers.
"It’s a Government priority to support and develop British farming and encourage sustainable food production, and I am grateful for the experience and insight of the Task Force in producing this report."
A full copy of the report is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/food/policy/partnership/fvtf/index.htm
FPC said it welcomed the Government’s commitment to take on board these recommendations - one of which is that the 5-a-day mantra should further promote potatoes as a healthy and vitamin rich carbohydrate - and will be closely monitoring its progress as it begins to take them on board.
FPC chief executive and member of the Fruit and Vegetables Task Force Nigel Jenney said: "We want to see that the fresh produce industry is not hampered by unnecessary regulatory burdens and has every opportunity to increase UK production and encourage greater consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables."
"The task force took on board the challenges of increasing production of indigenous crops and has included wide-ranging recommendations, whilst recognising that we cannot be totally self-sufficient in all fresh produce."
Nigel Jenney added: "It is vital that both the industry and Government play their part in encouraging people of all ages to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, which is the central objective of the task force. If we fail to do this future generations will suffer the effects of poor diet and obesity and there will be no increased market for UK production. Industry campaigns such as Eat In Colour demonstrate that fresh produce can be fun, easy to prepare and convenient.
"Fresh fruit and vegetables will always be the vital keystone for a healthy diet and we believe that the Government should continue to focus on fresh produce as the ultimate convenience food," said Nigel Jenney.
For more on this story, including details of the task force' report, see Grower September 3.