Fruit Focus 2014: Diverse range of topics tackled in Fruit Forums

Fruit Focus 2014 is hosting one of the most diverse forum programmes in the history of the event, providing an opportunity for all visitors to discuss and debate key topics affecting the sector with a range of experts.

Latest developments to boost numbers of insect pollinators while protecting the crop protection toolbox and securing labour legally and safely post SAWS are the titles of the two NFU seminars that take place at 10.00 and 11.00 respectively. These are followed on the hour by a retailer’s vision for UK fruit, the latest breeding technologies and a Q&A session on vine growing, which completes the schedule.

The Fruit Forums, sponsored by the NFU, are held in the Fruit Forums marquee. They are open to all visitors and are included in the ticket price. Fruit Focus takes place at East Malling Research, Kent on 23 July.

NFU seminar 1: Protecting crops and pollinators

NFU Horticulture Adviser Dr Chris Hartfield, who is also a specialist on bee health issues, will present the latest developments on DEFRA’s National Pollinator Strategy, which aims to bring together all existing pollinator-friendly initiatives and provide an umbrella for action.

He will also talk more widely about the NFU’s lobbying efforts to ensure that any restrictions applied to the use of crop protection products are proportionate and evidence-based to enable growers to farm productively and sustainably.

The NFU continues to lobby for appropriate legislative measures around the availability and sustainable use of crop protection products, says Dr Hartfield. The EU Commission’s recent decision to introduce a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids is a prime example of where this policy has gone wrong, he adds.

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“There is a serious risk that the Commission’s hazard based approach to pesticides will remove essential technologies and crop protection tools,” says Dr Hartfield. “UK and EU farmers and growers need these if they are to remain competitive and deliver for food production and the environment, and their loss could place European growers at a serious competitive disadvantage compared to growers in third countries.”

NFU Seminar 2: Seasonal labour – working together to tackle exploitation

Paul Broadbent, chief executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and David Camp, chief executive of the Association of Labour Providers will offer their perspectives on how the whole supply chain can work together to reduce exploitation, and how growers can secure labour legally and safely now that the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) has been scrapped.

The GLA’s strategy proposes a clear and strict focus for the GLA on the gross abuse and exploitation of workers by rogue gangmasters. It also states a firm intention for the GLA to achieve greater efficiency and target its increasingly limited budget and resources through enhanced intelligence sharing, working in partnership and by adopting a risk-based approach to inspections and enforcement.

“Many growers who are users of labour supplied by gangmasters will have an interest in the work of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and will welcome an opportunity to better understand the focused direction the GLA is headed in, their responsibilities as employers and the role they can play in protecting vulnerable workers,” says Mr Broadbent.

Sainsbury’s – our growers and our vision for UK fruit

Simon Hinks, technical manager at Sainsbury’s, will cover the role of the Sainsbury’s British growers within the global grower portfolio and the direct impact British growers can have on a positive customer experience.

He will talk about the current and future expectations of the British fruit industry within Sainsbury’s and how growers can ensure they are well equipped to capitalise on upcoming opportunities.

He will give insight on customer views of British fruit and the role it plays in customer diets as well as Sainsbury’s views of what a resilient British fruit supply chain looks like.

What DNA technologies can do for you!

This forum will examine the latest advances in apple genetics and breeding

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technology and will consist of three short talks covering:

  • DNA technologies: What could they do for the fruit industry? This will assess

    prospects from early plant selection to breeding, including the use of marker-

    assisted selections.

  • The Market Place – looking at opportunities for new varieties, the importance of

    52-week supply (working with southern hemisphere producers).

  • Apple Breeding in the UK: The dawn of a new era?
    Speakers include Dr Tony Harding, technical director, Worldwide Fruit and Dr Richard Harrison, molecular geneticist at EMR.

    Vines to Wines Q & A

    Vines to Wines, partnered by English Wine Producers (EWP) and the United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA), is holding a question and answer session in the Fruit Forum marquee in the afternoon.

    The session is aimed at fruit growers looking to diversify and other new entrants. A panel of experts will answer questions from the audience on all aspects of viticulture.

    Tickets for Fruit Focus 2014 cost £10 and are available online or on the day. For more information about tickets and the event go to


Forums programme

10.00 Protecting crops and pollinators

Speaker: Dr Chris Hartfield, NFU Horticulture Adviser

11.00 Seasonal labour – working together to tackle exploitation Speakers: Paul Broadbent, chief executive, Gangmasters Licensing Authority; David Camp, chief executive, Association of Labour Providers

12.00 Sainsbury’s – our growers and our vision for UK fruit

Speaker: Simon Hinks, technical manager, Sainsbury’s

13.00 What DNA technologies can do for you!

Speakers include Dr Tony Harding, technical director, Worldwide Fruit; Dr Richard Harrison, geneticist and research leader at EMR.

14.00 Vines to Wines Q&A