Speaking exclusively to FoodManufacture.co.uk at the IGD conference in London yesterday (October 8) Walton said there was “good evidence” to suggest consumption of fruit and vegetables had decreased – and was continuing to do so – within the UK.
As early as 2009 national press reports indicated fresh produce sales were falling as the recession kicked in. The decline had continued since then, said Walton.
That's despite the fact that programmes such as Jamie Oliver's Money Saving Meals, recently launched on Channel 4, are urging consumers not to waste fruit and veg and use them more effectively.
“ONS [Office of National Statistics] data shows us there has been steady price pressure in both fruit and vegetables; DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] data shows us that people are purchasing less; the NHS health data suggests that people are eating much less,” he added.
Listen our podcast to find out what Walton said the drivers were behind this trend and what the food industry needed to do to resolve the issue.
‘Boom in business start-ups’
However, Walton said a recent “boom in new [food and drink manufacturing] business start-ups” meant that it was not all doom and gloom for the industry.
Meanwhile, earlier this year StartUp Britain gave 10 businesses the chance to pitch their products to Sainsbury.
StartUp Britain is a national campaign, set up by eight entrepreneurs, to help new businesses secure initial contracts with retailers.