How has Brexit impacted on the British vegetable market?

Food & Drink | Reports | Retail
Uk Vegetable market threatened by Brexit

The impact of Brexit could counter plans to persuade British people to put more vegetables on their plates.

The warning comes from one of the country’s leading purchasing groups, which claims that the heat in the kitchens of the catering industry has intensified because of Brexit, and its impact on the exchange rate.

Last month, supermarkets, food-on-the-go chains and manufacturers made ‘veg pledges’ at a summit in London organised by The Food Foundation in a bid to increase consumption of the healthy foods.

Data released by The Food Foundation said that this past summer, UK consumers bought two thirds less veg than the amounts recommended by health experts.

Hospitality procurement specialists, The Regency Purchasing Group, have said there are a number of factors which are keeping vegetables from menus.

Managing Director Alex Demetriou said: “People are de-skilling kitchens, predominantly because of the minimum wage and the pressures that this brings.

“It is more cost-effective to employ a cook, rather than a chef, but the result tends to be that products such as vegetables, which need to be cooked perfectly, will often fall away from a menu in favour of something much simpler to deliver.

“The impact of Brexit on the exchange rate is also something which challenges the push to increase vegetable consumption.

“In the past, chefs were keen to come to the UK from Eastern Europe to work. But since the UK voted to leave the EU, and the value of the pound has fallen, they found that the money they earned here was worth a lot less when they returned home, so many chefs are now choosing to go to other European countries instead of the UK.

“The majority of fruit and vegetables consumed in the UK are shipped in from Europe and the Americas, and all have seen significant increases due to our exchange rate.

“Asking anyone to buy more of something that has become, in some cases, 20% more expensive in the last 18 months, is always a challenge.

“Even the home-grown produce is more expensive because farmers adhere to increases in the minimum wage, together with a shortfall of seasonal migrant workers, who are finding it more lucrative to seek work in Holland and Germany, rather than come to the UK like they used to.”

With increasing economic uncertainty, more businesses within the hospitality industry are turning to purchasing groups to help them balance their books.

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