Shoppers will be able to buy environmentally friendly, healthy and affordable food under plans for a radical shake-up of the UK’s food industry.
As one of the first steps, the government has launched a call for evidence, giving everyone from consumers, farmers and food producers, to scientists and academics, an opportunity to shape how the UK produces, sells and consumes food.
Comments and suggestions will help produce the first major review of the nation’s food system in nearly 75 years, led by Leon restaurant co-founder Henry Dimbleby. The review will help ensure the food industry is fit for the future, supports growth, enhances the environment and is resilient to the challenges posed by climate change.
The review will also look at what is working well already and the role of new technology to revolutionise our food supply. From innovations like vertical farming and robotics to carbon-neutral manufacturing and crops that tackle climate change. No idea is too big or small to be considered.
In 2016 the agri-food sector contributed £113bn to national Gross Value of the UK economy with over 3.9m employed by the sector as of Q1 in 2018 making up 13% of the GB employment. The total spending by consumers on food, drink and catering in 2017 was £219bn with a further £22bn spent on food and drink exports from the UK.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “As well as keeping us alive and healthy, food plays a central role in our culture and our national life. The threats from climate change, loss of biodiversity and the need to deliver safe and affordable food gives rise to new challenges we must address.
“As we leave the EU and seek to capitalise on the opportunities this can provide for the UK’s farmers and food producers, we have the chance to reshape our food system from farm to fork to ensure it is ready to deal with these 21st century pressures.
“So I am delighted to launch this call for evidence to build on the excellent work Henry Dimbleby has already done on this important review. We should not underplay the importance of the food we eat for our environment, our health and our society, and I encourage people to share their views on the way ahead.”
Independent Review Lead Henry Dimbleby said: “We’re launching the call for evidence today to gather insights and inspiration to help transform our food system.
“These could be policies or ideas that make it easier for us to make more informed decisions about the food we eat; that make food production more environmentally sustainable; that help food businesses and communities to thrive; or that could put our country at the forefront of innovation in the coming years.
“Whether you are someone who works in a food business, a farmer, a food processor, an interested citizen – whoever you are – we want to hear from you. We can’t wait to read your submissions and hear about your ideas.”
Together the review findings will inform the Government’s new National Food Strategy which will be published next year.
To submit views visit the Governments consultation website here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/agri-food-chain-directorate/national-food-strategy-call-for-evidence/