UK fresh produce loses out in Government sourcing

Government contractors source less than two-fifths of their requirement for "indigenous" fruit and vegetables from the UK, it has been revealed.

Farming minister Jim Paice said in response to a Parliamentary question last week that UK-grown fruit and vegetables accounted for 23.3 per cent of the total.

The figure represented 38.5 per cent of "indigenous" fresh produce requirements of its food and catering services, he added. This compared with 43.5 per cent of meat and 67.1 per cent of poultry sourced from the UK.

Paice added: "EU treaty principles of non-discrimination and the free movement of goods and services between member states prevent public bodies from discriminating in favour of domestic food suppliers."

However, Government buying standards introduced last June specify that food procured should be produced to UK or equivalent standards "except where that would incur an increase in overall cost", said Paice.

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