Market and consumption changes: fruits and vegetables.
Following a brief history of fruit and vegetable production in the UK, it is argued that the geographic distribution of current horticultural production reflects the specific crop producing areas of the UK, agricultural technology and the change from large numbers of small farmers to small numbers of large growers. The UK relies heavily on imports for certain commodities which cannot be produced domestically for climate reasons. Most significantly, the food system has become increasingly consumer dominated, with a concomitant decline in the power of the farm lobby. With the development of specialized production districts, marketing of fruit and vegetables has become more complex. New elements in marketing include: the merchant buyer; auctions and cooperative societies; commission agents; primary wholesalers; and secondary wholesalers and merchants. Changes in retailing patterns have also occurred. In the last 25 years, there has been tremendous growth in the multiple supermarkets; their increased market share, at the expense of greengrocers and small wholesalers, has been as a result of their improved buying powers. In terms of consumption, although total consumption of fresh vegetables has declined, there have been notable increases in consumption of tomatoes, leafy salads, broccoli, mushrooms and new exotic species such as okra, courgette and aubergine; unfortunately most of these are imported. Fruit growers are attempting to improve quality and marketing of all fruit crops. In the future, industry needs to improve its marketing and merchandising if demand is to increase significantly and if advantage is to be taken of the interest in healthy eating. Exotics, pre-packed produce for convenience and high quality products with little wastage are likely growth areas to be exploited.