Future food issues addressed

Posted on 5 Jan 2010 by The Manufacturer

Government today released the strategy through which it hopes Britain will achieve a healthy, sustainable, and profitable food industry in 20 years time.

Developed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health, with feed in from related industries, firms and the general public, the Food 2030 strategy includes proposals for feeding a growing global population, reducing waste and greenhouse gasses, sourcing and producing sustainably, increasing industry skills, and introducing cutting edge technology.

All aspects of the food industry, including farming, manufacture, distribution, retail and consumption, are covered.

“We want UK agriculture to produce as much food as possible, as long as it’s what people want, and it’s done sustainably,” states the report, before describing, among other things, the “secure supply chains” that Britain can create for world benefit. The potential increase in GDP and the beneficial effect on UK balance of trade is not described, but assumed.

The strategy is the culmination of the proposals in previous reports such as 2008’s Food Matters as well as a public consultation which opened on August 10 last year and elicited 182 responses online alone before closing on October 16. Food 2030 was then unveiled by environment secretary Hilary Benn at the Oxford Farming Conference today.

“We know we are at one of those moments in our history where the future of our economy, our environment, and our society will be shaped by the choices we make now,” he said.

Not just for the good of the nation’s physical health, a sound strategy for food is necessary to support Britain’s biggest manufacturing industry. As the report states, agriculture and food processing contributes £80 billion to the UK economy and employs 3.6 million people. And those manufacturers welcomed a limelight which they often feel they are unduly denied, given the size of their contribution to GDP.

Responding to the Government’s ‘Food 2030’ strategy published today, Melanie Leech, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation, said:

“We share the Prime Minister’s pride in Britain’s food sector and are pleased that he recognises our economic and strategic importance for the UK,” said Melanie Leech, director general of the Food and Drink Federation. “We have consistently called for a new Government approach that makes sustainable and competitive food production a key priority in its own right. Today’s launch of the Food 2030 vision marks the start of such a process.

“Manufacturers will play a vital role in meeting the increased demand for safe, nutritious and affordable food that has less impact on the environment and natural resources on which we all depend.

“We look forward to working with Government to turn words into action; ensuring our sector continues to thrive so that we can provide the innovation and growth that Food 2030 recognises will be vital if we are to ensure the nation’s future food security while supporting the creation of a low-carbon economy in the UK.”

Click here for a PDF copy of the Food 2030 strategy.