Farmers should learn from sectors such as the car industry to stay open to new ideas and compete globally, according to Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of the IGD and chairman of the Food Chain Centre.

In her speech to the NFU annual conference, Ms Denney-Finch encouraged farmers to identify and implement best practices from companies such as Toyota.

She said it was possible to give consumers better value and develop sustainable partnerships in the food chain, while delivering profit for all – but only if there was more co-operation by all parties.

“Automotive is a global market and there are clear-cut winners and losers in that industry,” she said.

“Toyota has been very successful … and key to this is its special relationship with suppliers.

It thinks long-term.

It hand-picks those with the best potential and it insists on transparency.”

She urged farmers to follow suit.

“We know that where we have brought together all the players in particular supply chains to form a collaborative group, it has resulted in substantial savings across the chain of up to 20%.”