Blog: Our 'can-do' efforts to identify new markets

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Lee AbbeyThe NFU is identifying opportunities for more British products in the supply chain.

He writes:

In April this year, the NFU reported that Crosse & Blackwell had signed up to the NFU Back British Farming Charter.  What you may not have realised was that Crosse & Blackwell is one of the many well-known brands produced by those canned food specialists, Princes.

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In fact, you may have been forgiven for thinking Princes is all about tuna. It's not. Under their many brands, Princes also produces fruit, vegetables, pies, meat, pasta, cooking sauces, ready meals, sandwich fillings, cooking oils and a whole range of soft drinks. They also manufacture and supply retailers' own-brand products.

Recently, the NFU's chief food chain adviser, Ruth Mason, and I met with senior management from Princes at its headquarters in Liverpool to discuss their current British sourcing and plans for the future.

With their buying and corporate relations teams around the table with us, it was a very open and productive meeting. And it was pleasing to see that while Princes already sources a lot of its products from the UK, there was a clear appetite from them to continue to work closely with their growers and with the NFU to ensure that they can use as much home grown food as possible.

Already, they have a well-established grower network for peas and other vegetables, and they aim to continue to develop these further.

Of course, there are challenges. Increased competition from imports means the businesses are always seeking to find efficiency gains. British growers need to find better ways of delivering products and being competitive.

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The NFU aims to continue to have an open dialogue with Princes for the benefit of our farmers and growers.

From a consumer perspective, the obvious advantages canned fruit and vegetables provide such as shelf life and minimising waste, can be overlooked.

The NFU aims to continue to have an open dialogue with Princes for the benefit of our farmers and growers.

I particularly want to explore more ways of getting Princes involved in our Horticulture and Potatoes Growth Plan which is looking to identify supply chain best practice and to work across the industry to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables - two things I feel Princes are committed to.