SCOTLAND’s fruit and veg sellers are to flock to Edinburgh for a national Vegetable Summit next month, with organisers hoping to challenge large and small businesses, Government departments and local authorities to get fresh produce back on the national agenda.

Supported by Scotland Food & Drink, the gathering in the capital’s Royal Botanic Gardens on October 24 will run at the same time as Vegetable Summits in London and Cardiff.

The latest Scottish Health Survey, released yesterday, showed that the average daily amount of fruit and vegetables eaten by adults has fallen.

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On average, most adults in Scotland manage an average of three portions a day, lower than recommended five a day, and down from 3.3 in 2015.

The survey said just 20 per cent of adults managed five, while around 12 per cent didn’t have any.

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.

James Withers, CEO of 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. The summit is part of the Food Foundation’s international Peas Please initiative.