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Food apprenticeship scheme announced by government

The Government has recently announced plans to create fifty thousand apprenticeships in the food industry.

Jim Paice, the Agriculture Minister, made the announcement during the launch of a DEFRA backed action plan to encourage more apprenticeships and challenge food businesses to change the way in which young people perceive working in the industry.

The food industry is vitally important to UK growth, contributing £90 billion to the nation’s economy and employing over 3.6 million people. However there is a significant skills shortage throughout the food chain and it is widely acknowledged that industry needs to attract more ambitious and well qualified candidates if it wishes to sustain growth and innovation.

Speaking at a recent event Mr Paice explained that the fifty thousand apprenticeships demonstrate that the industry is serious about establishing itself as somewhere that young people can enjoy fulfilling and skilled careers.

Jonathon Pearson, a former apprentice who now works in the industry, believes that many people don’t necessarily appreciate the career opportunities that are available. Since completing his training, Jonathan has achieved promotion and would strongly recommend the food industry to anybody that is looking for rewarding and challenging career.

The Further Education Minister, John Hayes, explained that apprenticeships are a fantastic way for youngsters to access the high quality training that they require to enjoy successful careers. They are also excellent for UK growth since every pound invested generates a forty pound return.

As part of the action plan the food industry will be promoting the ‘Feed Your Ambition’ message to over sixty thousand youngsters in more than eight hundred schools. Careers in the industry can range from farmers and producers throught the food chain to professional chefs and cookery schools.

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Farmers Blame Fall In Organic Food Production On Supermarkets

Recent figures reveal that farmers have begun to scale back production of organic food due to fading interest from major supermarkets.

According to figures recently published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the amount of land in the UK being set up for organic production has fallen by 68 per cent in the last four years.

Throughout the UK there were just over 50,000 hectares being prepared for organic production in 2010. This was less than 50 per cent of the 2009 total which, in turn was significantly lower than the 158,000 hectares that were being prepared in 2007.

Sales of organic food have fallen in the last two years as consumers opt for cheaper alternatives in the face of higher food prices.

According to figures released by the Soil Association organic sales this year were £1.73billion, a fall of 5.9 per cent from £1.84billion.

Sales also fell by 12 per cent in 2009 which ended a sequence of consistent growth for the preceding 16 consecutive years.

The fall in demand has been attributed to the recession as families look to reduce the amount they spend on groceries.

The number of organic producers has also dropped from 7,900 to 7,600, with the loss of a tenth of the land used for organic production.

Nevertheless, some farmers believe that consumer interest in organic produce continues to be strong outside of the major supermarkets.

There are also farmers who believe that moving to organic farming can help to cut costs. A spokesman for a large farm co-operative in the South West recently claimed that whilst some farmers may think that they can’t afford to become organic because the market is constrained, if they really investigated it they would discover that there are ways of ensuring it is cost effective.

Another farmer who converted to organic production in 2005 claimed that he would be out of business now if he hadn’t made that choice.