NFU links with HSBC to host 'fruit forums' at Fruit Focus event this summer

The NFU and HSBC Bank are partnering up to hold "fruit forums" at this year's Fruit Focus, event organiser Haymarket Exhibitions has announced.

The forums will discuss key issues facing the industry at the event - to be held at East Malling Research Centre, Kent, on 23 July.

NFU chief horticultural adviser Phil Hudson said: "Being involved with Fruit Focus is an important decision, demonstrating to those inside and outside the industry that the NFU is supportive of the soft fruit industry and aware of the valuable contribution it makes to the nation's agricultural industry."

Estimates suggest the British soft and top fruit sectors return about £300m in sales each year, a figure that has increased year-on-year for much of the past decade.

Hudson attributed much of this increased consumption to initiatives such as Five a Day, as well as more awareness of local produce.

He said: "It's great that growers have been able to respond to this increased demand, but there are always new challenges, and I hope some of them can be addressed through the fruit forums.

"After sponsoring the seminar programme in 2007, we're delighted to be working with HSBC Agriculture. Its involvement with the event typifies the enthusiasm with which it approaches the industry."

HSBC's agriculture director Martin Coward said: "Our horticulture specialists within the team have long been involved with the fruit sector, but it rarely gets the air-time it deserves. Its value is growing at a significant rate, a factor that's helping us to raise the sector's profile within our business and externally.

"Greater value also means more sophistication in how and where produce is grown. A more demanding market is emerging - the primary reason why growers need to be at Fruit Focus. We should all be talking about what's coming."

See www.fruitfocus.co.uk.


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