Sector review calls for evidence on issues around fairness in the horticultural supply chain

Farming secretary Steve Barclay

Farming secretary Steve Barclay

Image: Richard Townshend

The government has officially kicked off its review into fairness in the fresh produce supply chain.

The much-anticipated sector review has been launched with the intention of “supporting British farmers and growers to receive a fair price for their products and ensuring customers have access to high-quality fresh British products.”

Defra said the Fresh Produce Supply Chain Review “delivers on a key commitment made by the Prime Minister at the Farm to Fork Summit in May” and will seek the views of industry on issues including the fairness of contracts between producers and buyers in the sector, and how supply chain data can be used to support transparency in the negotiation process.

A consultation has been opened and responses are invited from all stakeholders with a link to the fresh produce sector. The review will run for 10 weeks until 22 February.

Sector challenges

The horticulture industry contributed £3.3 billion to the British economy in 2022 and grows more than three million tonnes of over 300 different fruit and vegetable crops domestically.

Defra said that supporting the growth of the sector is a key component of Rishi Sunak’s priority of growing the economy.

The sector has faced a number of challenges in recent years including increased energy, fuel and labour costs, which have raised concerns about the fairness of the UK supply chain.

The review is described as the first step in addressing these concerns, providing support for fruit and vegetable growers across the UK and helping meet the government’s target to keep producing 60 per cent of the food consumed in the UK.

It builds upon a series of reviews that have taken place, or are currently underway, to improve fairness in the pork, dairy and egg supply chains.

Defra secretary Steve Barclay said: “I’m committed to backing British farmers and growers, and it’s only right that producers should be paid a fair price.

“This review will help ensure that is the case, as well as delivering on our commitments from the Farm to Fork Summit to provide greater stability and resilience for the fresh produce sector.

“The review will gather evidence about how contractual arrangements in the fresh produce sector currently function, whether there is a need for further legislation to oversee the relationship between producers and purchasers, and whether the supply chain can be made more transparent.”