OVER the recent months our UFU Vegetable Committee have highlighted the continued pressures and challenges within their vegetable supply chain. On exploring this further it became evident that these pressures were not unique to Northern Ireland. Click here to see more...
The NFU launched their report ‘Catalyst for Change’ suggesting better ways of doing business in the Horticulture and potatoes sector earlier this year. NFU Chairman Sarah Dawson travelled to Northern Ireland, visited a number of local producers and presented the findings and recommendation from the report at a special Horticulture event in Greenmount Campus (CAFRE).
The UFU Vegetable Committee have reviewed the report and discussed the importance of delivering a charter for best business practice in the fresh produce sector. ‘The Fruit and Veg Pledge’ will promote best business practice and improve relationships and balance risk between retailers, intermediaries and growers. The pledge clearly sets out the behaviour and commitment that the supply chain must aspire to if it is to achieve a vision of a productive and profitable horticulture sector.
Our UFU Vegetable Growers welcomed the pledge, as it gives opportunity for the grower to highlight their commitment and ability to produce the highest quality, traceable and farm assured fresh fruit and vegetables that consumers increasingly demand.
The NFU report highlights ‘a lack of trust and confidence’ within the supply chain as the most significant factor impacting on the horticulture sector’s performance. Several examples of poor practice were exposed, which have been identified through first hand discussions between growers and intermediaries operating across all sectors of horticulture. These included concern about over riders, verbal margin agreements, a lack of price certainty and late payment. The report highlights how many of these issues and practices constitute a breach of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP).
The UFU vegetable committee reaffirm that the continuation of this situation could lead to fewer local vegetables on the supermarket shelves for consumers to buy, allowing for higher levels of imported produce, less product choice and innovation, ultimately extending to higher food prices in the longer term.