21/10/2009

Healthy Food 'Task Force' Launched

A new Task Force will help England to grow and eat more fruit and vegetables and improve the nation's health, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced today.

Comprising growers, retailers, consumers and agricultural researchers, the Fruit and Vegetables Task Force will develop an action plan to increase the production and consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Mr Benn said that the new group needed to look at ways to get people growing their own fruit and vegetables, and to get people choosing local fruit and veg, particularly when it's in season.

In 2008, domestic production of fruit and vegetables was 37% of demand.

The UK produces 11% of the fresh fruit we consume, which has increased in the last five years, and 58% of fresh vegetables, down from 63% five years ago.

Current barriers to production include developing clear career paths to attract young people to the industry, the availability of seasonal workers, volatile energy costs and the effects of climate change including the availability and cost of water.

Mr Benn said: "There is a gap at the moment, between what we consume and what we grow here, but there’s no reason why we can't grow more here.

"And the main thing we can do to encourage this is to choose, and eat, British produce."

Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham said: "Getting Britain growing more fruit and veg isn't just good news for our farmers - eating it is the tastiest way for the rest of us to maintain a healthy lifestyle too.

"We know the demand is there - the latest Health Survey for England results showed an increase in the number of people eating fruit and veg and our '5 A Day' campaign is supporting families to get even more fruit and veg in their diets."

(PR/BMcC)

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