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24 June 2018, 06:23
Scottish fruit and vegetable producers have drawn up a new growth strategy in the face of Brexit.
Industry leaders fear it could be hit by a slowdown in European exports and a shortage of workers once the UK leaves the European Union.
The Scottish fruit and vegetable retail market, excluding foodservice, is worth over £1 billion and the UK market as a whole is worth almost £12 billion.
A group of leading businesses have come together to create a strategy to support the industry through to 2030.
The Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Industry Leadership Group said it will benefit the nation's health and environment - as well as the economy.
Recommendations include supporting collaboration between smaller producers and farmers, attracting more publicly-funded grants and creating a pilot seasonal agricultural workers scheme.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "Scotland has some of the healthiest, freshest and highest quality produce anywhere in the world, and there are exciting opportunities ahead for our growers and producers across the fruit, vegetable and potato sector.
"There is no doubt that we face challenges, particularly relating to Brexit, but this sector has huge potential if we can increase consumption, displace imports, and capitalise on our reputation internationally.
"The strategy provides a clear 'road map' for achieving those aims, to the benefit of farmers, consumers, and the wider rural economy.
"The sector is also key to our wider efforts to improve the nation's health and wellbeing, particularly our children and young people, and I look forward to working with the sector to take forward the range of actions."
Allan Bowie, chair of the Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Industry Leadership Group, said: "There is huge potential for our fruit, vegetable and potato sector to grow and by bringing leaders from across the industry round the table, we are proud to present this ambitious strategy which is the result of 12 months hard work.
"We recognise that the fruit, vegetable and potato sector in Scotland is diverse and each sub-sector has its own distinct challenges and opportunities.
"But we believe that if the sector works collectively with a focus on skills, innovation, strengthening the supply chain and developing markets the sector can carve its place in Scotland's food and drink success story."