Suffolk: Local processors get behind farmer-led food campaign

SUFFOLK food processors have backed a farmer-led campaign highlighting the agricultural sector’s contribution to the local economy.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) this week launched ‘Farming Delivers for Britain’.

In response, Suffolk-based sauce maker Rick Sheepshanks said he wanted to see British-grown and made products challenging the primacy of imported food products.

A OnePoll survey, commissioned by the NFU, found that in the East of England, more than three quarters of people think supermarkets should sell more British food, with 80% of people actively looking for British food when they do their shopping.

The aim of the campaign is to highlight the key role played by an industry that employs 40,000 people in the East of England, generated output valued at almost �3billion in 2010 and manages three quarters of land in the region.

The study found that eight out of 10 people (80%) across the region actively look out for British food at least sometimes – and 30% always look out for British food, where available.

Rick Sheepshanks, owner of Rendlesham-based Stokes Sauces said: “In the condiments and sauces industry, the majority of our market leaders are foreign brands. It really would be something to see British brands starting to challenge their stronghold. Our best sellers are made with the products from British farming and we’re delighted to hear that the NFU are launching this campaign to back home grown producers.”

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NFU President Peter Kendall kick-started the campaign on Monday.

“Britain’s self-sufficiency in food has dropped by 15 per cent in the past 20 years but I know everyone can do their bit by enjoying a more seasonal diet and eating more British food when it’s at its best,” he said.

“Our message is simple: ask for British food. Make it British, make it local and make it happen.”

The report sets out the main themes of the campaign – food, the economy, animal welfare, the environment, careers, and cleaner energy.

NFU regional director Pamela Forbes said: “This report showcases what farming delivers for Britain but also the potential that exists in areas such as green energy, job creation and economic growth. Farmers in our region have the fertile farmland, skills and the public support to build on today’s economic success story. We believe there are exciting times ahead for agriculture in the East of England.”