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Editor's view: Echoes of the past amidst Brexit's winds of change

In the heart of London, amidst its iconic landmarks and bustling streets, the whispers of Brexit's aftermath are impossible to ignore.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the UK's fresh produce industry. The once harmonious dance of fruits and vegetables from European fields to British plates has been disrupted, replaced by a series of challenges that have reshaped the industry's landscape.

The supply chain, once a streamlined process, now faces the brunt of customs delays. The freshness of produce, a hallmark of the industry, is now at the mercy of prolonged waits. And as I delve deeper into the financial intricacies, the shadow of increased tariffs looms large.

These added costs have, inevitably, trickled down to consumers, altering the dynamics of market prices.

Yet, it's the silent fields that speak volumes. The absence of the seasonal workforce, once a vibrant mosaic of European workers, is palpable. The post-Brexit immigration policies have left an indelible mark, creating a void that's hard to fill.

Over a quiet conversation in a quaint London café, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's words resonated with hope and determination. "We're acutely aware of the challenges faced by our fresh produce sector," he shared with a thoughtful pause. "Our commitment remains unwavering - to support our local businesses, farmers, and ensure the continuity of our food supply." He spoke of a future, where despite the challenges, the industry would find ways to adapt and thrive.

The narrative is clear. The UK's fresh produce industry is in the midst of a transformation, shaped by the winds of change but bolstered by ever-evolving innovation. By embracing this, and with resilience and adaptability, there is hope we can chart a new course in this post-Brexit era, finding new ways to grow and harvest our crops and ensuring our government delivers on its promises to the industry.

In a recent conversation, Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, shared his insights, "The challenges are undeniable, but so is FPC's commitment to our food and flower heroes.

"The consortium has been tirelessly lobbying the government, ensuring that the voices of our farmers, distributors, and retailers are heard."

Jenney emphasised the pivotal role the consortium plays in safeguarding the interests of the fresh produce and horticulture sectors. "Our goal," he continued, "is to ensure the future security and prosperity of these sectors in the UK. We believe in the strength and potential of our industry, and we'll continue to champion its cause at every turn."

About the Author: Sarah-Jayne Gratton is the Editor of Freshtalk Daily and Agritech Future.


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