Tag Archives: vegetables

Dutch ag. exports reach record high

According to the latest statistics from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and Wageningen Economic Research, Dutch exports of agricultural goods reached a record level of €91.7 billion in 2017, exceeding the previous record in 2016 by more than 7 per cent.

Dutch agricultural imports and the nation’s agricultural surplus also reached record heights, as imports of agricultural goods increased by 9 per cent to €62.6 billion, while the agricultural surplus went up by almost 4 per cent to €29.1 billion.

The horticultural sector led the way, with horticulture including cut flowers, bulbs, plants and nursery products worth €9.1 billion. This was followed by dairy products (€8.9 billion), meat (€8.3 billion) and vegetables (€6.7 billion). The same ranking holds true if only domestically produced items are counted.  According to the CBS, ‘fruit ranks fifth on the list of top agricultural export goods, although this is largely re-exports of foreign produce.’

Germany is the top destination for Dutch agricultural exports, with €23.4 billion in agricultural goods crossing the Dutch border, equivalent to over 25 percent of total agricultural exports.

Germany was followed by Belgium (€10.4 billion), the UK (€8.6 billion) and France (€8.0 billion) as the largest buyers of agricultural products from the Netherlands.

Photo Caption: Horticulture topped Dutch exports, with vegetables and fruit in fourth and fifth place.

Photo Credit: Statistics Netherlands (CBS)

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall calls for veg marketing fund

Television chef and food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has called for an advertising fund dedicated to the promotion of vegetables in order to compete with the marketing of junk food.

His comments came as he joined forces with the Pease Please campaign, which is organised and funded by the Food Foundation, to launch their new campaign targeted at children. “It’s time to shout about how great veg is, and how vital it is for families to buy, cook and eat more of it. Unlike all the junk food and confectionery we are relentlessly sold every day, our delicious vegetables are not ‘owned’ by massive global brands so they don’t get the marketing and advertising clout they deserve,” he said.

“Having a pooled marketing budget from retailers, producers and government is a brilliant idea. It means we can get top agencies behind the marketing of veg, which will drive up demand and boost consumption.”

This year’s Peas Please campaign is based on a design which was voted for by children from across the UK, following more than 60 entries from design agencies and students. The advert will be displayed at more than 5,000 locations including Co-op stores, school canteens and as street art.

Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation, commented, “There is not just one answer to tackle the nation’s diet crisis. We are working with businesses to help make the food environment healthier but advertising plays a vital role. At the moment advertising is skewed towards junk food and we need a more balanced playing field to help support us all, and particularly children, to eat more veg.”

Photo Caption: The new campaign was voted for by kids across the UK.

Photo Credit: Food Foundation

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Morrisons’ veg boxes proving popular

Supermarket Morrisons has launched two new value veg boxes, one priced at £3 (although it was launched at a promotional price of just £1) and a larger one at £5. The smaller box is available online, with the larger one in stores.

Morrisons vegetable buyer Andy Todd said, “We’ve listened to our customers who told us they want even more affordable veg. They are a great way for our customers to buy British or eat seasonally or feed the family for the week.” The retailer says the £5 box contains enough vegetables to feed a family of four for four or five days. The seasonal products include items such as carrots, courgettes, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, with many lines being slightly misshapen or out of specification for other products. Produce is currently sourced from up to 60 British growers, but the retailer said that the new line would not be exclusively British in origin.

Photo Credit: Morrisons

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Most UK fruit imports from outside EU

Most fruit imported into the UK comes from outside the European Union (60 per cent), whereas the EU is the main source of imported vegetables data shows.

Over the last three years total imports of fruit and veg have risen by 12 per cent. The biggest supplier of fruit to the UK is Spain at 679,523 tonnes of fresh fruit, followed by South Africa and Costa Rica with 346,359 and 303,221 tonnes respectively.

Spain is also the largest supplier of vegetables to the UK supplying 1.01 million tonnes, closely followed by The Netherlands at 744,239 tonnes. Between them these two horticultural powerhouses supply 64 per cent of UK vegetable imports. Tomatoes are one of the main imports, and while the volume of potatoes and carrots fell last year, legumes increased by 55 per cent.

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Are broccoli leaves the next kale?

Supermarket Asda has promoted the consumption of broccoli leaves on its blog, prompting some industry commentators to suggest that they could become the next ‘on trend’ green vegetable.

Writing for Asda Good Living, Alexia Dellner said, ‘Broccoli leaves are large (similar to chard), taste slightly sweet and are highly versatile. Usually left in the field and ploughed back into the land, American chefs and health bloggers have already clocked on to how delicious the leaves are and how easy they are to eat! Broccoli leaves can be boiled, steamed or sautéed – similar to how you would use kale. For an easy side dish, simply fry leaves in a little olive oil with garlic and you’re ready to go.’

Charlie Mills, Asda’s fresh produce manager told The Grocer, “We’re committed to tackling food waste at Asda and are constantly looking at our produce across the board to see where else we can make a difference. When we discovered the delicious taste of the broccoli leaf, coupled with its outstanding health benefits, we knew it was a clear winner to hit shelves.”

Photo Caption: Broccoli leaves could be the next green vegetable to hit supermarket shelves.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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BBC reports ‘slavery’ on Lincolnshire farms

On Thursday (3 December) BBC Look North carried a report which it claimed had “lifted the lid” on “allegations of modern slavery in the fields of Lincolnshire.”

Reporter Linsey Smith said many eastern European migrants working in fields and packhouses in Lincolnshire felt “abused, exploited and worthless.” One unnamed woman who was prepared to appear on camera said her former supervisor regularly offered female workers money in exchange for sex. Ms Smith said she had interviewed ten migrants and had heard “countless” other anecdotes about poor treatment.

The programme said that the complaints referred to “several” different gangmasters, but it focused primarily on Boston-based Local Link Recruitment as an undercover reporter “experienced at first hand the high pressure environment.” Specific allegations included a lack of waterproof clothing, working at night, a lack of ‘safety gloves’, wage deductions for transport and that Rafal Czerwiak, who was filmed during the report, was acting as an un-licenced gangmaster.

In a statement Local Link Managing Director Iowna Lebiedowicz denied all of the allegations and stressed that Mr Czerwiak runs his own business, Viva Bonta Ltd, which provided transport for Local Link. In addition she stressed that, “All staff are provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) including high-visibility jackets, wellington boots, gloves and wet weather clothing and supervisors have spare equipment in their vehicles. Workers who want to wear their own PPE are welcome to do so; however, we are required to check that it is up to an acceptable standard for their own protection.”

On Look North, Boston & Skegness MP Matt Warman commented, “It’s shocking and depressing that it’s still going on. This is an issue I have raised with the Home Secretary.” He also referred to the Government’s consultation on the future of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

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7.5% jump in UK horticultural area

The latest statistics published by Defra and the Office for National Statistics suggests a 7.5 per cent increase in the area of horticultural crops in the UK last year. The main sectors which contributed to the rise included top fruit, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, onions and salads.

However, the statistics also revealed an 8.6 per cent fall in glasshouse space dedicated to flowers, foliage and other ornamental plants. Home produced vegetables were worth around £1.2 billion in 2014, 8.5 per cent less than 2013 due to lower prices caused by oversupply and lack of demand, with field vegetables worth £885 million and protected vegetables £348 million. The value of UK produced fruit rose in value to £620 million in 2014, 7.5 per cent up on the previous year thanks to increasing demand for soft fruit, together with larger yields and a longer growing season. UK ornamentals were worth £1.17 billion in 2014, 2.0 per cent lower than in 2013 but higher than the values seen in previous years.

Home production of vegetables contributed to around 57.6 per cent of the total UK supply in 2014, while the UK supply of carrots was 101.4 per cent, indicating that the UK exported more carrots than it imported: the highest level of carrot exports on record. Tomatoes also performed well, with home grown crop accounting for 19.4 per cent of consumption, the highest level since 2002.


Concern over patents for vegetable varieties

Copa and Cogeca have issued a warning over the consequences for plant breeders and others about using patents in the EU agriculture sector.

The comments were made at a seminar in Brussels on 24 June on the interface between patents and plant variety rights. The unions say granting patents will result in fewer products and varieties and additional costs.

Thor Kofoed, Chairman of Copa-Cogeca Working Party on Seeds, said “A patent system in the EU agriculture sector will not help farmers to get a better crop variety adapted to local conditions. Instead, it will lead to less products and less varieties and additional costs. Copa and Cogeca are very concerned by the increasing number of patents granted to plants.”

He pointed to the recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) which recognises two patents: one from a British company for broccoli that contains a bitter anti-carcinogenic substance, and another from an Israeli company for ‘wrinkly’ tomatoes which have reduced water content.

Copa-Cogeca maintain that the specific characteristics of these broccoli and tomato plants were not invented or artificially manufactured, but were present in the wild parent plants and are the result of crossing and selection practices, which are essentially biological processes. ‘This protection will mean that all companies that produce varieties with the same features will have to obtain a licence from the patent holder. It could jeopardise progress in breeding, and decrease innovation and biodiversity, thus resulting in increasing consolidation in the seed industry,’ the unions added.

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