Knowledge for better food systems

Horticulture in the UK: potential for meeting dietary guideline demands – new report by Food Research Collaboration (FRC)

This report produced by Food Research Collaboration (FRC) outlines the horticulture sector’s potential to create a shift towards healthier diets in the UK by contributing to overall fruit and vegetable consumption.

Horticulture refers to the cultivation of a garden; cultivating flowers, fruits and or vegetables. The report also describes the trend of decreasing horticulture production in the UK during the past 3 decades, where areas dedicated to horticulture has steadily decreased (for vegetables by 26% and for fruit by 35%). In light of public health advice to eat more fruit and vegetables, the report suggests British fruit and vegetable production is too low to meet dietary recommendations and needs to be strengthened.

The Briefing makes a series of recommendations:

  • The Government (DEFRA) forthcoming 25 year Food Strategy should apply a ‘health lens’ to its proposed focus on ‘Brand Britain’
  • Government, growers, land use specialists, industry and regional bodies should begin to plan the infrastructure needed for a massive reinvestment in, and policy support for, horticulture.
  • Both academics and civil society should examine the scope for encouraging demand for more home produced, sustainable horticulture and higher consumption of fruit and vegetables in the UK
  • Public health and environmental analysts should work more clearly on how to narrow the gap between supply of, and demand for, fruit and vegetables. Modelling studies as well as practical investigations should be funded.
  • A new research strand should be set up by the Government Research Councils into how to build demand for more sustainable home production.
  • A new more unified voice between all parties is needed to champion the British horticultural sector; this lack should be the subject of linked (or even joint) inquiries by the Parliamentary Health, Environmental Audit, BIS, and Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committees

Read the full report here. You can find further resources on horticulture in our research library category on horticulture and fruit trees here.

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