Opinion

Time for the UK government to listen to the fresh produce trade

25 October 2016

Nigel Jenney
Nigel Jenney

The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) is urging ministers and officials to listen to the UK fresh produce industry as the UK government sets out parameters for future trading with the European Union and third countries over the coming months

The UK fresh produce industry operates on slim margins, and the recent slump in sterling is causing significant pressures with increases of around 15% in costs. Suppliers are working hard to continue to minimise the impact, but unless the UK government restores confidence and stability quickly in the UK economy it’s inevitable that in the near future these costs will eventually filter through to the UK consumer.

We recognise both the challenges and opportunities of a future outside the European Union but it’s vital that our UK government works now with us to set the path for a positive future for the thousands of people employed in our industry, both UK citizens and much needed workers from the European Union and overseas. The FPC is striving on behalf of its members to make sure that their voice is heard.

We are urging the UK Government to provide greater focus on the following:

  • Current exchange rate impacts creating an unsustainable trading environment unless costs are managed through the supply chain. Ultimately these could reach the consumer.
  • Lack of certainty for EU workers in the industry and provision of a future workforce
  • Securing beneficial trade agreements that will provide a seamless transition post-Brexit with the European Union and global trading partners.
  • Building an efficient and effective regulatory framework that reduces the burden on industry.
  • Providing assurances that UK Government funding will be in place to maintain competitiveness for UK growers.

The UK imports 67% of its fresh fruit and vegetables, providing a sustainable supply of a wide range of products throughout the year, many of which cannot be grown in the UK. It is vital that we secure a beneficial trading agreement with the EU as well as with third countries in order to meet demand from UK consumers for fresh produce all year round.

The viability of many UK businesses depends on instilling confidence now in the UK market for investors and getting the detail right for future trading and regulation. Our UK government must have a sound understanding of our sector, and demonstrate greater clarity on its proposals so that together we can secure a strong future for our industry and the UK consumer.

FPC has published a briefing document ‘Securing the best future for the UK fresh produce industry post Brexit’ which is available here.

The Fresh Produce Consortium is the UK's fresh produce trade association. The voice of the UK industry, the FPC plays a unique and crucial role in creating opportunities, defending livelihoods and supporting the growth of its members' businesses from picking and packing to retailer and restaurant. With Produce Business, FPC presents the annual The London Produce Show and Conference.

Produce Business UK welcomes letters to the editor and other input from the industry. If you wish to respond to an article on Produce Business UK or join the conversation on any industry issue, please send your thoughts to [email protected]

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