Veg pledge threatened as Brexit bites

8 November, 2017

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.  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.

But why is it that we're in this position to begin with? - We feel there are a number of factors which are keeping vegetables from the nation's menus.

Skilled Labour

Businesses are rapidly de-skilling their kitchens, predominately because of the pressures that the minimum wage brings.  It is more cost-effective to employ a cook, rather than a chef.  This results in products such as vegetables, which need to be cooked perfectly, falling away from menus in favour of things which are much simpler to deliver.

Furthermore 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.  This combines with continued uncertainties surrounding employment as a foreign national through and beyond the increasingly imminent Brexit, to further reduce the amount of skilled labour.

Cost

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

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 grim prospect.

Even home-grown produce has become more expensive as farmers adjust 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.

Our Commitment

With economic uncertainty at an all time high, we're committed to helping our members free up more of their time and capital to tackle the considerable pressure our industry is under.  We are dedicated to providing our members with the best possible prices, and also all the expertise they need in order to give them the best chance of overcoming the many challenges they're currently facing.

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