Retailers across Europe have been warned against an over-reliance on importing produce from other sources.
Speaking at the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) Spring Conference near Norwich, Professor Ian Crute, chief scientist with the Agriculture and Horticulture development board, explained to delegates that importing more frequently can lead to a neglect of some areas of agricultural production. He highlighted the issue currently ongoing in Asia where nations like China are having to import an increasing amount of produce to help satisfy the demand of its population.
The goings on in the Far East have been attributed to the rise of affluent customers that demand more exotic foods that are usually not readily available in the nation. However, FoodManufacture.co.uk reported that Professor Crute is adamant that this kind of attitude can lead to a detrimental effect on a country's farming industry at a time when it needs a significant boost.
In the UK, the agricultural sector has been blighted by an exceptionally wet 2012 and this year has presented it with challenges such as an unseasonably cold spring.
Professor Crute told delegates: "In Europe the situation for the production of vegetable protein has been one of significant neglect.
"We've allowed ourselves to become dependent on production from South America - particularly Brazil. But, with the growth of global trade, we could end up with a bilateral trade agreement between China and Brazil, which left Europe exposed."
Producing more homegrown food has also been highlighted as a way of avoiding incidents such as the horsemeat scandal which blighted meat sellers all across the nation. The issue raised questions of where retailers were sourcing their beef and suppliers from the likes of France and Ireland were put into the spotlight.
Major companies have called for more transparency within the supply chain of how these products go from the field to the shelf to ensure that an incident like this does not happen again, tarnishing the reputation of some large organisations.