Farmers want shoppers to buy more home-grown food
- Credit: Pagepix
"Buy British" buttons and clearer country of origin labelling could be introduced for online grocery shopping to support farmers, says an industry report.
East Anglia's farmers are also urging ministers to commit to not letting Britain's self-sufficiency in food production slip below its current level of 60pc, and to back more home-grown food in public sector catering such as schools and hospitals.
The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has released a report calling on the government to complete a comprehensive report on UK food security later this year - the first for over a decade.
It also sets out how the UK can reduce its reliance on imported food by harnessing the opportunities to increase home-grown produce, and boost export markets for produce such as lamb.
One suggestion is clearer, more accurate labelling on the origin of groceries sold online, while another step could be the introduction of a "Buy British" button or filter to allow shoppers to select British products, it says.
NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford said: “Our farmers in East Anglia produce some of the best food in the world. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, but it’s produced to incredibly high environmental, animal welfare, traceability, and food safety standards – something not every country is able to say.
“Yet, over the past few years, not enough importance has been placed on our food production.
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"This has been all too clear as we have seen our self-sufficiency in food production decline from as high as 78pc in the mid-80s to its current level of just 60pc.
"The report highlights some important crops grown in the East Anglia region and our self-sufficiency in these crops. For example we are only 16pc self-sufficient in fruit production, 54pc in fresh vegetables and 71pc in potatoes.
"East Anglia farmers stand ready to grow more food for British consumers but, as the report highlights, to be able to fully grasp the opportunities ahead to put more food on plates at home and abroad, we need government action on a range of areas, not least on access to labour.
“If our government truly backs the potential of British food and farming, the country could see huge benefits.
"East Anglian farmers could increase the industry’s economic contribution and provide more nutritious, affordable, climate-friendly British food for UK shoppers and people across the world, all while bolstering domestic and global food security.”