The Ulster Farmers’ Union has praised the commitment of supermarket Lidl to sourcing fresh produce in the province at sustainable prices for producers.
Speaking after a meeting with the firm, UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson said he was cautiously optimistic about prospects for local growers.
“We were encouraged that they appear to share our view that there is a real opportunity to develop the market for fresh produce from Northern Ireland farmers, packers, and processors,” said Mr Ferguson.
Growers have faced challenges in the recent past, because of poor returns, and Mr Ferguson said this had been made worse because of difficulties securing land for crops.
“This is down to the complexities of the conacre system.
“Before committing to often expensive land growers need reassurances from retailers that they won’t face further downward pressure on prices,” said the UFU deputy president.
He said Lidl appeared positive about fresh produce, recognising that local growers supply top quality vegetables and potatoes.
“They obviously want the best for their customers and I believe they are keen to use local supplies to grow the market,” he said.