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New OU/BBC Series - What Britain Buys and Sells in a Day

What Britain Buys and Sells in a day

On Monday 30th September 2019 a new OU/BBC TV series will be shown on BBC2 at 9pm.

In this three-part series, presenters Ed Balls, Ade Adepitan and Cherry Healey delve into the hectic world of Britain’s imports and exports. As our trading relationships face their biggest change in decades, they explore how much we really know about the science and systems that enable Britain to import and export goods around the world on an unprecedented scale.

Episode 1 - Fruit and Veg

Ed is at London Gateway to see how the fruit and veg that we love travels across the globe but arrives on our shelves in tip-top condition. From trying his hand at being a truck driver to investigating how apples are starved of oxygen to keep them fresh, he reveals all the tricks of the fruit and veg import export trade.

Ade travels the world looking at how Britain’s changing tastes for fruit and veg are impacting farmers everywhere. He visits Peru to see how Britain’s obsession with healthy eating has created a booming economy for avocado farmers. Next, he visits a business in the Netherlands which is home to 11,000 acres of greenhouses to produce almost 400,000 tonnes of tomatoes every year– much of it bound for the UK. He then heads to one of the largest grape growing regions in Spain to see how producers grow sweet and crunchy grapes to satisfy British tastes.

Cherry meets British producers to see what and how we export to some surprising places. She speaks to a Cambridgeshire potato farmer who is selling spuds to the Irish and a sparkling wine producer whose product is being snapped up all over the world.

Episode 2 - Seafood

Seafood - a commodity the UK buys and sells in huge quantities. Surprisingly, the fish caught off British shores is largely dispatched abroad as exports, whereas the fish we eat here tends to be imported.

Ed is at Heathrow Airport, a crucial link in Britain's seafood supply chain. He sees how crates of seafood are transported beneath the feet of long-haul passengers, in cargo holds... And how this dual purposing of flights allows the Scottish salmon industry to export nearly a quarter of a billion pounds worth of salmon a year to far flung places like the USA and China. Ed also goes behind the scenes of the airport operations centre to witness how delays can affect Britain’s seafood supply chain.

Cherry is in the Scottish Highlands to uncover why the world is so fond of salmon farmed in its beautiful landscape and Ade travels to Iceland to catch one of Britain’s favourite fish - cod.

Episode 3 - Cars

Ed is in Southampton at one of Britain’s largest ports to see our biggest export market - Cars.

The industry employs over 850’000 people, more than the populations of Glasgow or Manchester, meaning no other product has a bigger direct impact on our economy.

This highly collaborative, global business relies entirely on international trade and that means huge flows in and out of our country every day, and Ed wants to find out how that works.

Cherry is at a car plant located firmly in Britain’s manufacturing heartland up North to explore the manufacturing technique called Just-In-Time which see’s many parts arriving into Britain on a daily basis. Ade is discovering how our spending power is currently helping prop up the world’s supercar companies.

This series was commissioned by Broadcast and Partnerships, supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Business and Law.

The OU Nominated Academics are Alan Shipman, Dr Stuart Parris and Dr Paul Walley.

The Media Fellows are Dr Alison Penn and Liz Moody


To find out more about how UK suppliers adapt to ever-changing consumer tastes on OpenLearn, visit What Britain Buys and Sells in a Day.

(please note the website may not be live until transmission)

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