The Fresh Produce Industry in 2024: A New Year Message From Our Chief Executive, Nigel Jenney

The Fresh Produce Industry in 2024: A New Year Message From Our Chief Executive, Nigel Jenney

4 Jan 2024

The Fresh Produce Industry in 2024:

A New Year Message From Our Chief Executive, Nigel Jenney

In the ever-evolving tapestry of the fresh produce industry, 2024 stands as a year fraught with challenges, yet brimming with untapped potential.

As we navigate the uncharted waters of post-Brexit trade, climate change, and global conflicts, the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) emerges as a beacon of hope and resilience, championing the cause of its members and the broader industry.

FPC: Steering the Ship Through Stormy Seas The FPC's role in safeguarding the future of our food supply cannot be overstated. In these turbulent times, their efforts to advocate for fair trade practices, support sustainable farming initiatives, and foster technological innovation are more crucial than ever.

They stand at the forefront, not just as an organisation, but as a collective voice for the unsung heroes of our industry – including growers, distributors, retailers, and innovators who work tirelessly to ensure our nation's plates remain bountiful.

Embracing the Winds of Change As we face the daunting prospects of food shortages and supply chain disruptions, it is imperative that we, as an industry, adapt and evolve.

The FPC's push for embracing cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices is not just a choice but a necessity. From smart farming to eco-friendly packaging, these innovations are the lifeblood that will sustain our industry in the years to come.

The Green Revolution: More Than Just a Promise Post-Brexit Britain promised a green revolution in agriculture, and it's time we hold that promise to the light. The FPC's advocacy for policies that support sustainable growth and reduce trade frictions is a testament to their commitment to this cause.

It's a clarion call for a future where our industry supply chains are as green as the produce they yield.

Ongoing Challenges However, we continue to voice serious concerns regarding the UK Government’s poorly developed EU border strategy. We’ve waited for years, yet material concerns remain unanswered and the proposed common user charge is simply a huge additional tax to fund the Government managed border control points which, despite having been built at huge cost, remain closed with no confirmed opening.

Their service offering fails to meet the needs of the just-in-time perishable sector.

This will inevitably lead to considerable, unnecessary costs and delays on vital supply routes and international sources, which are crucial for providing our nation with a diverse range of produce that is in high demand by consumers.

This could severely impact SMEs, who form the backbone of our food, flower, and plant sectors.

It is imperative that responsible companies are authorised urgently to conduct official inspections – after all, industry experts undertake these tasks daily. However, despite persistent follow-ups, the response has been lacklustre: "Oh, it might take at least a year to organise, if at all."

In fact, the FPC presented the solution to the Government several years ago.

When will the Government realise that our highly developed, least-cost international supply chains are at risk due to their own actions? The result is evident: since no one can absorb these enormous costs, we face either self-inflicted, avoidable food inflation or potential shortages of produce.

It's not too late for Ministers to implement the proposed world-leading border strategy, but it currently falls far short of the rhetoric. Ensuring a guaranteed, affordable food supply is crucial for hard-pressed consumers and for the wider industry.

The Heroes Behind Our Harvest Let us not forget the real heroes of this story – the growers and distributors.

These individuals are the backbone of our industry, working relentlessly through extreme challenges and shifting market demands.

The FPC's efforts to support and uplift these individuals are crucial in ensuring that their hard work translates into a stable, sustainable food supply for all.

A Future Forged by Resilience and Innovation As we look towards the future, the path for the fresh produce industry is clear – it is one of resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment to sustainability.

With the FPC leading the charge, we are not just preparing to face the challenges of 2024; we are setting the stage for a future where our industry thrives, our food supply is secure, and the heroes of our fields are celebrated.

Let this be the year we turn the tide, embracing the challenges as opportunities to grow stronger and more resilient than ever before.

A Year of Opportunity and Commitment Our two industry publications, Freshtalk Daily and Agritech Future, continue to gain acclaim and expand their readership, consistently illuminating the latest sector developments.

And the new year offers a chance for new growth as we are excited to offer an exceptional opportunity for businesses to exhibit to over 27,000 visitors at our FPC Fresh Produce Hub, in collaboration with IFE’s annual Food and Drink Event in March.

This event is not just a showcase but a strategic opportunity to highlight your products and services to a huge audience and a growing market. For more info go to IFE INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND DRINK EVENT MARCH 25-27th 2024 | Fresh Produce Consortium

Our highly anticipated annual FPC Fresh Awards will, as always, be a spectacular and stylish event, celebrating the achievements of our industry's trailblazers and showcasing the extraordinary talent and dedication that drives our dynamic sector forward. To make your entries head to FPC Fresh Awards 2024

On behalf of all the team at FPC, I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive, FPC