A family of four could face a serious spike in their fruit & veg bill of up to £158-a-year leaving the poorest households struggling more than ever to eat their five-a-day.
The new report from The Food Foundation examines the potential impact of different Brexit scenarios on fruit and veg prices, raises concerns for the 92% of teenagers in the UK already finding it difficult to consume five or more portions per day.
The report shows that a triple impact of exchange rates, labour costs and tariffs are likely to make it even harder to meet government targets of fresh produce consumption.
People on a low income, such as the one in five earning below the Real Living Wage, will be impacted the most.
According to The Food Foundation, in a “no-deal scenario”, price rises would mean the poorest 10% of the population could spend half of their entire food and drink budget to meet current government guidance for fruit and veg.
Low earning Brits already consume, on average, one portion less each day compared to more wealthy households, but very few people eat enough.
The report, which groups fruit and veg as Hardy Heroes, Brexit Boosters and Channel Hoppers depending on levels of UK self-sufficiency, explains the opportunity government ministers have to develop a policy which deliberately sets out to benefit the nation’s health.
The Food Foundation says the report includes a number of measures which could be adopted in the forthcoming Agriculture Bill.
Grow more in the UK
The report identifies 16 of our 50 favourite fruit and veg which could be grown more in the UK, meaning less reliance on imports and more competitive prices. These are apples, broccoli, cauliflower cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, pears, peppers, spinach, spring onions, sweetcorn and tomatoes.
It also suggests actions which could be included in the Agriculture Bill to drive up supply and demand of British produce.
“The government faces a clear choice to boost British harvests of fruit and veg or the NHS will reap the consequences,” said executive director of The Food Foundation, Anna Taylor.
“Five-a-day needs fresh ideas and an Agriculture Bill which increases supply and demand of British fruit and veg is a huge opportunity.
“It is absolutely crucial that the government grabs the bull by the horns before the Brexit boat sails.”
The Agriculture Bill provides an opportunity to boost the sector to deliver more for the economy and the health of the nation, according to John Shropshire, chairman of salad and vegetable grower G’s Fresh.
“British growers of fruit and veg are being squeezed by difficulties in securing labour and limited demand from British consumers,” he said.
The report forms part of the Food Foundation’s Peas Please initiative, which looks at supply-side barriers to vegetable consumption. The project brings together farmers, retailers, fast food and restaurant chains, caterers, manufacturers and government departments with the common goal of making it easier for everyone to eat more vegetables.