Industry urged to promote UK production

Growers should capitalise on the growing momentum being given to the issue of food security by emphasising the importance of British food production.

Raymond: industry must work together to promote British food production. Credit: Leo Wilkinson Photography
Raymond: industry must work together to promote British food production. Credit: Leo Wilkinson Photography

This was the advice given by NFU vice-president Meurig Raymond to a 600-strong audience at last week's Grower of the Year Awards, held in London.

He said: "Horticulture is well-placed to provide the solutions to many of the issues faced by our society - its contribution to tackling obesity, for example, or to reducing food miles by the sourcing of locally grown produce. We must remind opinion-formers that these are just some of the many attributes of the British horticulture industry."

He added that the NFU's contribution to this effort will be the launch this spring of a Why Horticulture Matters campaign to highlight British horticulture's contribution "to the economy, to the health and well-being of the nation and to reducing food miles".

He said: "I know that I can count on your support to help us deliver these important messages."

Showcasing the strength of the UK's horticulture industry were the many winners of this year's awards in the edibles categories - including Herefordshire-based AJ & CI Snell, which won the awards for Soft Fruit Grower of the Year and overall Grower of the Year - Edible.

The company's owner, Anthony Snell, said: "We are really surprised and delighted to win."

He added that the success of the soft fruit industry will depend on the availability of seasonal labour and the use of polytunnels.

"Last season was the wettest on record and it just proved that without polytunnels we would have had no soft fruit within the whole of the UK. It would have set back the industry by 10 years."

He added: "We need eastern European fruit pickers - if you make it too onerous for both parties it will set back the industry for many years. We need 20,000 every year to come here to pick our crops. They are the most vital thing that we need."

WINNERS

EDIBLES CATEGORIES

Grower of the Year - Edible (sponsor: NFU) and Soft Fruit Grower of the Year (Crop Pro Tech and Hortech) AJ & CI Snell

Best New Variety Worldwide Fruit - UK Jazz Apple Nomination

Vegetable Grower of the Year Watton Produce

Top Fruit Grower of the Year (New Spitalfields Market) Highland Court Farm

Salad Grower of the Year (Rijk Zwaan) The Watercress Company

Prepared Fresh Produce Grower of the Year (Bakkavor) Alfred G Pearce

Organic Grower of the Year Loveden Estates

OVERALL CATEGORIES

Consumer Marketing Campaign of the Year Wendy Akers PR for the Watercress Alliance

Sales and Marketing Professional of the Year (MorePeople) Richard Arnold, Really Welsh Trading Company

Young Grower of the Year (NFU) Joe Cottingham, Watts Farm

Science into Practice (Bakkavor) New Farm Produce - Development of Asparagus Heating Project

Technical Product of the Year (CC) Hortec Quickcut


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