Edinburgh to host first Scottish vegetable summit as food industry makes 'Pledge for More Veg'

Edinburgh is set to host the Scottish leg of the UK-wide Vegetable Summit - which will see national retailers and decision makers ‘pledge for more veg’.

Published 6th Oct 2017
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

Nourish Scotland made the announcement regarding the summit, with Scotland Food & Drink helping to support the event which will will take place on 24th October at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

Other summits will run in London and Cardiff on the same day, providing a united front across the UK.

The day-long conference will challenge large and small businesses, Government departments and local authorities to announce the commitments they will make to support change in our diets and consumption habits, placing the desire for more veg firmly on the national agenda.

Pete Ritchie, Director of Nourish Scotland, one of the initiative partners, said: “Five a day is one of the most recognised health messages in the world.

"But we’re still not doing it. In fact, 80 per cent of adults in the UK aren’t eating enough veg. So we have founded this summit to campaign for change.

“We recognise that it is the food system that needs to change to support consumers to make healthier choices. We have collaborated with over 150 organisations including growers, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, restaurateurs, fast food chains, experts and government to identify the food system challenges to veg consumption and find ways in which these barriers can be overcome.”

The latest evidence from the Global Burden of Disease project shows that diet is the biggest risk factor to death and disability in the UK.

Research has shown that veg can protect us against most diet-related disease, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Yet, one in four secondary school children and 13 per cent of primary school children eat less than one portion of veg a day; and half of adults eat less than 2.3 portions of veg a day.

Scottish Government statistics also reveal that 65 per cent of adults aged 16 and over are overweight, 29 per cent of which are considered obese.

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James Withers, CEO Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Scotland produces some of the best vegetables in the world yet we know as a country we need to consume more of what we are growing on our doorstep.

"Scotland Food & Drink has a really ambitious strategy to grow Scotland’s food industry between now and 2030. However, whilst we will measure success in economic terms, we also believe that growth can be done in a way that improves Scotland’s health and wellbeing at the same time.

"Greater consumption of home-grown vegetables will support local producers and allow us to take greater steps to improve that nation’s dietary health.”

The key topics addressed at the Summit will be; The Big Veg Gap, Increasing Veg in Hospitality, Children’s Views on Veg, Boosting Veg Growing in Scotland and Increasing Veg Sales in Retail.

Speakers for these sessions include delegates from Scottish Government, NHS, Sodexo and The Rowett Institute, alongside representatives from large businesses.

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The summit will also explore what can be done to market vegetables effectively, as currently the average proportion of the food and drink advertising spend given to promoting veg is just 1.2% per cent.

The Vegetable Summit is part of Peas Please, an initiative led by The Food Foundation, Nourish Scotland, WWF-UK and Food Cardiff.

• For more information on the campaign, pledges and the summit, please visit: www.nourishscotland.org/projects/peas-please

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