The NFU has urged Birds Eye to reconsider its decision to stop sourcing peas in East Anglia.
The decision was a “huge disappointment” for British growers, said the union. It will affect 180 farmers producing peas covering an area of 4500ha in Norfolk and Suffolk.
“This is terrible news for growers in East Anglia, some of whom will have been supplying peas to the plant for more than 60 years,” said Sarah Pettitt, chairman of the NFU’s horticulture board.
“The British pea is renowned the world over for its taste and quality and growers in this region and in the country as a whole have spent considerable time, effort and resource on ensuring that they provide the consistent quality product that consumers have come to expect at a value-for-money price.”
Sarah Pettitt added: “I urge Birds Eye to re-consider their approach to this decision. In Anglian Pea Growers they will find partners willing to discuss constructively the problems that Birds Eye face, with the aim of trying to find alternative solutions than simply turning out the lights on their freezing plant.”
Ironically, the NFU said, Bird Eye’s decision comes at a time when British growers are feeling much more positive about their position as the nation’s food suppliers.
The union said recent government announcements have confirmed that food security has never been higher on the national agenda.
It has placed an importance of ensuring that farmers and growers are in a position to respond to the challenges of producing more food for a growing world population, the NFU said.
“This makes the Birds Eye announcement all the more telling to growers in the East Anglian region,” added Ms Pettitt.