26 August 2010 | Lindsay Clark
The fruit and vegetable industry believes improved supplier relationships could help increase the consumption of its products in the UK.
According to a study conducted by the industry-led Fruit and Vegetable Task Force, backed by the government, building a competitive supply base and an efficient supply chain is one of four main targets which will help encourage people to eat more fruit and veg.
Food minister Jim Paice said: “We produce some of the best fresh food you can buy right here in England. We can’t grow all the fruit and vegetables people want to eat, but increasing consumption and home production is not just good for people’s health, it will develop market opportunities and the confidence of our growers.
The task force’s report said: “Growers find it difficult to plan their business without good communication (from buyers) and without agreed terms in advance. Much more could be done to help build trust along the supply chain.”
It said the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which now requires a written record of negotiations, went some way towards helping to deal with this problem. But the code only applied to direct relationships with retailers, not suppliers dealing through intermediaries.
The new Grocery Code Adjudicator should develop a deep understanding of how these supply chain trading relationships work for the entire fruit and vegetables sector, so excessive risks or unexpected costs are not passed back to suppliers in a way which may affect their willingness to invest or innovate, the report said.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it would discuss the task force’s proposals with relevant departments, taking into consideration wider policies and contexts, including practicality and cost.
Poor nutrition was estimated to cost the NHS £8 billion in 2009, based on figures from 2002.
The industry-led Fruit and Vegetable Task Force was set up by Defra in October 2009.