7 January 2014 | Will Green
Environment secretary Owen Paterson is expected to call on food businesses and consumers to buy British fruit and vegetables to help boost the economy.
Paterson, due to give a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference today, will say the country has a “top class fruit and veg sector” yet £8 billion of fruit and vegetables was imported in 2012.
He is expected to say: “As British farmers and food producers you know that we grow some of the best food in the world here – so why is 24 per cent of the food eaten in the UK imported when it could be produced here?
“We have a top-class fruit and veg sector which produces everything from green beans to strawberries, yet we imported £8 billion of fruit and veg in 2012. We can’t grow mangoes or pineapples, but we can encourage UK consumers and food businesses to buy Scottish raspberries or Kent apples.
“This is a huge opportunity, and it’s up to all of us – farmers, food manufacturers and the government – to take action. By buying seasonal fruit and veg we can improve the nation’s health, help the environment and boost the economy.”
Paterson is also expected to announce changes to livestock movement rules that will save farmers and taxpayers £70 million over 10 years by cutting red tape.