Fruit Focus lines up Lord Henley and Crute

Lord Henley, Defra's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, has been confirmed as one of the guest speakers at this year's NFU and Syngenta Bioline Fruit Forums at Fruit Focus.

The annual Fruit Focus event in East Malling, Kent, is taking place on 21 July. Lord Henley will be joined by guest speakers Mary Vizoso - Waitrose's director of food technology - and Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board's (AHDB) first chief scientist Professor Ian Crute.

They are using the forums to discuss the biggest challenges, issues and developments within the UK's fruit industry.

Conservative peer Lord Henley, who was given responsibility for waste and recycling by the new government, is discussing where the horticultural landscape sector lies under the new coalition.

Vizoso will give her views on "The Future of Fresh Produce Procurement - satisfying supermarket demand".

Issues she plans to cover include the current trading environment, the increasing environmental and food security pressures, balancing value for money for consumers with fair deals for the growers, and building supplier relationships.

A Kings College London graduate, Vizoso is well suited to discussing these topics having held a number of both technical and commercial roles in food technology, brand development and produce buying.

She is responsible for Waitrose's produce buying division and also established the Waitrose Foundation that aims to empower small-holders and farm workers in South Africa, Ghana and Kenya. She also introduced Linking Environment & Farming (LEAF) accreditation to the Waitrose worldwide supply base.

Crute is discussing the importance of science and research to the British fruit industry in the context of a global market - as well as how growers can ensure that their levy money is used to best effect, maintaining competitiveness and the challenges of food security and sustainability.

Crute said: "Fruit consumption in the UK is steadily increasing and there is plenty of scope to substitute imports with home-based production.

"It is regrettable that short-term and expedient government decisions over the past decade have severely eroded the capacity to deliver publicly funded research of strategic long-term value to the fruit production industry.

"This has occurred at just the time when competitive advantage is likely to be derived from the UK's warming climate and reducing summer rainfall in southern Europe. With recently introduced EU regulations governing pesticide availability, the effective control of pests and diseases will be increasingly challenging."

- Tickets for Fruit Focus are available free of charge by registering through the event website at www.fruitfocus.co.uk


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