The report sets out steps to keeping food affordable while minimising environmental damage at a time of soaring global population growth.
The Green Food Project examined how production and consumption could change in wheat, dairy, bread, curry and other staple foods in different geographical areas and was unveiled by farming minister Jim Paice at yesterday’s Great Yorkshire Show.
On bread, experts suggested that significant amounts of energy could be saved if new more energy efficient toasters are invented.
On the consumption of curry, experts suggested that Britain’s farmers could grow more herbs and spices as the UK’s climate changes, or chickpeas for roti-bread flour.
Representatives of farmers, manufacturers, retailers, caterers, environmentalists and scientists were brought together by government to carry out the project after the release of the Foresight report into food security in January 2011.
The Foresight report estimated that by 2050 the world’s population will increase to nine billion up from seven billion today, and food production will need to increase by 70%.
It also estimated that between 30% and 50% of all food grown worldwide may be wasted.
Andrew Kuyk, director of sustainability at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and a stakeholder in the report’s development, said that the work sets a clear course for action to meet the wider global challenges of future food security and climate change.
“We have not come up with all the answers, but we have set a clear course for what needs to happen and shown that it is only by working together that we can reduce the risks and maximise the benefits of what we are able to produce, now and in the future, to help deliver safe, secure, affordable and nutritious food supplies for generations to come.”
Leading project members, including the FDF, WWF-UK and the National Farmers Union, will meet regularly to discuss how to bring about less wasteful manufacturing and consumption practices.
The report was widely welcomed by the food industry. Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said “We particularly welcome the recognition of the difference in impact between meat sectors, with poultry having the lowest environmental impact. This is an area where poultry breeders and more latterly UK poultry producers, have been particularly active over many years.”
He added: “Meat plays a vital role in feeding the nation and will continue to do so. It is now time for major livestock producing sectors, such as poultry, to provide their expertise on these issues and contribute to sustainable food production and consumption policies.”