European funding eyed for fresh produce promotion

The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) is canvassing industry views on a bid for EU funding to support a promotional campaign for fresh produce across Europe.

It is hoped that such a campaign would act to revive those sectors affected by the E. coli crisis this summer.

FPC president Jim Rogers said: "Following the devastating impact of the recent European E.coli outbreaks on the UK fresh produce industry we are asking our members whether they want us, on behalf of the industry, to bid for a promotional programme. This could be either a broad campaign or activities tailored to support particular products or sectors."

The European Commission, as part of its Internal Market Promotions Scheme, can each year co-fund up to 50 per cent of promotional and marketing programmes for certain products of EU origin within the EU. It is inviting proposals from trade associations and other representative bodies.

Rogers said: "It is imperative for the industry to take responsibility for increasing consumption, although I appreciate that trading conditions are difficult at this time."

The proposals are due to be discussed by the FPC council next month. If there is committed support from the industry, it will develop a proposal for submission in November.

FPC chief executive Nigel Jenney said: "We are disappointed by the lack of support from the UK Government to redress the loss of consumer confidence in fresh produce.

"Once again the fresh produce industry is left to help itself and this EU funding could provide the opportunity to give much needed assistance to hard-pressed sectors of the industry."

UK producers suffered significant losses due to claims linking fresh produce to the E. coli outbreaks. The FPC estimated that lost sales revenues for cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce alone were around £54m. Sales of bean sprouts fell by 30 per cent.

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