British Berry Growers, the organization representing 95percent of Britain’s commercial soft fruit producers is announcing the creation of an Campaign and Policy board to promote the urgent industry demands.
The committee is headed by Anthea McIntyre, CBE. She is who was a former member of European Parliament where she served as the chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee with a focus on horticulture, and producing various reports.
On the board are an assortment of the biggest cultivators of berries from all over the UK: Tim Barnes (Charltons), Tim Chambers (WB Chambers), John Chinn (Cobrey Farms), Angus Davison (Haygrove), Jim Floor (Hall Hunter), Peter Judge (S&A Group) Peter Judge (S&A Group), and Lochy Porter (Angus Soft Fruits).
The British industry that grows berries faces serious problems that are jeopardizing the viability of its industry. An independent survey conducted by consultant Andersons Midlands found that two-thirds (68 percent) of British producers of berries are not convinced about the future prospects of their business – with a additional 68% of them saying that they are planning to increase the investment plan for their future in the wake of this. 4 percent of them are planning to spend more.
Costs of inputs rising, insecurity about the long-term supply of labour, absence of support from government for research and development as well as international competition are the main some of the reasons cited. The board’s new goal is to tackle these problems through collaboration with ministers, government departments and key stakeholders to create an overall strategy that will ensure the long-term sustainability for the British berry industry.
British Berry Growers has already contributed for the Horticultural committee’s October 2023 report. inquiries of the EFRA into Fairness within the Food Supply Chain and UK Trade Policy: Food and Agriculture.
The needs of the berry industry are laid out in the 6-point plan of action, which calls to action in the following major aspects:
- A scheme to allow seasonal workers visas extends from 6 to 9 months
- Rural Payment Agency scheme extension
- National planning frameworks to control the growth of environment
- A flourishing British industry of berries
- An improved relationship with retail
- The easiest way to send British strawberries abroad
They’re calling for more flexible and adaptable procedure for approval of exports of berries that will enable British growers to compete their EU counterparts. They are working together alongside DEFRA in establishing an effective export process that benefits everyone.
Nick Marston, chairman of British Berry Growers: “The British Berry industry is valued at PS1.7 billion in sales to retailers all year round and is responsible for approximately 33,000 employment opportunities throughout the nation. It is not only important for the growers, but its continuous success is a vital element of our country’s economic and well-being.”
Anthea McIntyre CBE Chair of the board for policy She said “Growers have been struggling to make return on investment and rising cost of production, including labour. Now is the time to take action for continued growth. This industry is on the edge of danger, however with the support of our government and policymakers, we can ensure an improved future for British fruits.”
British Berry Growers
Tel: +44 20 7575 7654
Source: The Plantations International Agroforestry Group of Companies