The amount of food and drink that the UK imports is set to be reduced as part of a new government initiative.
Speaking in a keynote address at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) President's Dinner on Tuesday (May 21st), Owen Paterson, secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), explained that the government was to launch a plan to promote homegrown produce. FoodManufacture.co.uk reported that Mr Paterson is keen on reducing the UK's reliance on imported food and at the same time provide a timely boost for farmers across the country.
The agricultural sector in the UK has endured some tough times over the past few years with adverse weather conditions becoming a major hindrance. After 2012 provided one of the wettest years on record, 2013 has seen an unusually cold spring with many parts of the country being blanketed by snow and exposed to freezing temperatures until as late as March and April.
Now the government has pledged that it intends on providing a boost for this industry by reducing its reliance on imported produce. The move is designed to help those stricken farmers that have been faced with tough challenges during recent years.
Mr Paterson told guests: "22 per cent of the food we import could be produced here. The industry can grow stronger by sticking more food on supermarket shelves that is actually grown here.”
The DEFRA official also explained that the UK is moving ahead with its exports and praised the industry for being able to boost this area while at the same time introducing skills training. The likes of China and Saudi Arabia have recently increased their imports from the UK with produce such as pork and chocolate experiencing a surge in demand.
"The food and drink sector is a vitally important part of our economy, contributing £96 billion and nearly four million jobs. I want to do everything I can to support it, and get more investment into the UK," Mr Paterson added.