Give farmers their just desserts says minister
Food producers have welcomed the call to arms by a Government minister to buy more British puddings to help farmers.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who took over the rural brief two weeks ago, has warned of the need to close the "dessert deficit".
In an interview with Farmers Weekly, he said there was a "big job to be done" in boosting Britain's food exports and persuading more people in this country to eat local produce.
The minister identified desserts as a target for "import substitution", and expressed alarm at the level of imported dairy-based puddings. Dairy farmers this summer launched a series of blockades as the farmgate price of milk was slashed. Many farmers are in a parlous economic state as the cost of production is more than they are paid. Mr Paterson said: "There is a huge dessert deficit in this country. We have a huge opportunity to replace imported desserts with desserts made here."
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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pointed to figures revealing that Britain imported 115,000 tonnes of ice-cream last year – more than double the 50,000 exported. Yoghurt imports reached almost 150,000 tonnes – six times the 25,000 sent abroad.
Swapping desserts such as panna cotta, crème brulee and tiramisu for traditional favourites like treacle tart, apple crumble and spotted dick was welcomed by the industry.
Nicholas Rodda, managing director of Cornish clotted cream firm Rodda's, said it markets products to encourage clotted cream to be eaten with the nation's favourite dishes.
All its milk comes from 151 farms based within a 30-mile radius of its creamery in Redruth, Cornwall, he added.
Mr Rodda said: "We're delighted to see the minister coming out in support of the much-loved British pud."