19 May 2020 18:33

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Pick For Britain aims to recruit up to 70,000 new fruit & veg pickers The partnership will include a primetime TV advert to air on Tuesday evening Waitrose has partnered with ITV to launch a new advertising campaign supporting the government's 'Pick For Britain' initiative. Pick For Britain aims to recruit up to 70,000 new fruit & veg pickers to help fill the fresh produce sector's expected shortfall of skilled migrant labour this year – which has been exacerbated by the effect of travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The campaign has also won support from the Prince of Wales. It comes amid warnings hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fruit & vegetables could rot in the ground due to labour shortages, and follows fears from the growing sector over low conversion rates from an initial surge in British job applicants at the start of the crisis. The partnership between ITV and Waitrose includes a primetime TV advert to air on Tuesday evening.

It will urge the British public to get involved and drive potential applicants to the pickforbritain.org.uk website, where local vacancies are listed. Waitrose will support the TV campaign by placing ads across national print and digital outlets, with targeted content also being created for social media platforms to raise awareness among students, graduates and younger people looking for contracts over the summer. "We source so much home-grown produce during the UK season, we absolutely need to ensure it is picked," said Waitrose trading director Rupert Thomas. "It is also vital for the livelihoods of UK farmers and growers across the industry that the country's fruit & vegetables aren't left to rot. "While the ad will leave viewers with no illusion that the job of a picker is easy, we hope it will capture the imagination and encourage people to do something extraordinary that's for the good of the nation." Pick For Britain was launched by Defra and supported by the NFU, AHDB, the British Growers Association and the Association of Labour Providers.

The industry is particularly looking for those who can work for the duration of the summer harvest, from May to September. NFU VP Tom Bradshaw added: "This year there will be thousands of vacancies opening up on farms across the country to help farmers get iconic British produce from field to plate. "From British strawberries being picked in early June all the way through to apples being harvested in the autumn, the importance of workers to pick, pack and grade fruit & veg cannot be understated. "We have been working closely with the government, who have launched the Pick For Britain website, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in helping pick for Britain throughout this summer to visit the site and see what jobs are out there." Simon Daglish, deputy MD of ITV Commercial, said the Waitrose partnership was "one of numerous ways in which brands are coming together to drive public awareness of the challenges everyone is facing throughout this pandemic". The ad campaign would "shine a light on the invaluable work carried out by farmers throughout Britain and we're hopeful it will help to bridge the labour shortfall", he added. Sign up to FREE email alerts from BirminghamLive - daily Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email Prince Charles has told furloughed workers across the country to take up fruit picking amid the coronavirus crisis. The Prince of Wales urged "pickers who are stickers" to join a national effort to help farmers with the "unglamorous" job of harvesting fruit and vegetables. Charles backed the Government's initiative to bring UK workers and farmers together to ensure crops are not left to rot in the ground during the coronavirus outbreak. He likened the "vital" project to the Women's Land Army, which helped boost Britain's food production during the Second World War. The prince, who runs an organic farm at his home in Gloucestershire, says in the video: "Food does not happen by magic, it all begins with our remarkable farmers and growers. "If the last few weeks have proved anything, it is that food is precious and valued, and it cannot be taken for granted. "This is why that great movement of the Second World War - the Land Army - is being rediscovered in the newly created 'Pick For Britain' campaign. "In the coming months, many thousands of people will be needed to bring in the crops. It will be hard graft but is hugely important if we are to avoid the growing crops going to waste." In the video, which was recorded in the vegetable garden of Charles's Scottish home and will be posted on the Clarence House social media channels later, the heir to the throne says: "Harvesting runs until the early autumn and people are needed who are genuinely going to commit. "The phrase I have often heard is 'pickers who are stickers'. "I do not doubt that the work will be unglamorous and, at times, challenging. But it is of the utmost importance and, at the height of this global pandemic, you will be making a vital contribution to the national effort. "So, I can only urge you to Pick For Britain." The Government's initiative follows concerns raised by producers that there will be a shortage in seasonal workers coming to the UK from eastern Europe due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. A Pick For Britain website, supported by the industry, has been launched by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, to help bring those seeking work and farmers together. Peak periods for harvesting produce run from June to the autumn and it is hoped that people from students to laid-off hospitality workers will take the opportunity.