Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 17:20 UK

Unsold fruit 'rotting on trees'

Good weather conditions have brought a "vintage year" for plums

Fruit is being left to rot on trees in Kent because supermarkets are not buying produce from UK farmers, it has been claimed.

Robert Pascall, who farms 50 acres of Victoria plums, said he could not find a buyer for 95% of his crop.

He said he also knew of other growers who were not bothering to harvest their plums because they could not sell them.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said supermarkets favoured imported produce which had a much higher profit margin.

Good weather conditions had delivered a "vintage year" for plums and farms had hundreds of tonnes of fruit ready, the union said.

But despite recent government calls for farmers to produce more food and claims that supermarkets supported British seasonal food, some major retailers had ordered quantities in single figures of tonnes, it added.

Dr Chris Hartfield, NFU horticultural advisor, said imported plums were being bought at 35p a punnet and sold on for £1, while British plums cost 70p a punnet and were also sold in supermarkets for £1.

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