A new body of leading figures from food manufacturing, catering, farming and government has been set up to devise a co- ordinated food and farming strategy for London.
The London Food organisation has been established by the London Development Agency (LDA). It has 25 members, including Sir Don Curry, chairman of the sustainable farming and food implementation group, Joanne Denny-Finch, chief executive of the grocery consultancy IGD, Richard Hallet, director of Grampian Foods, and David Smith, chairman of the Confederation of Independent Retailers.
The group will consider how to reduce the environmental impact of food manufacturing in the capital, raise workers' skills levels and improve Londoners' diets. It will pass recommendations to a new LDA Food Unit.
"Manufacturing in London is enormously important, but manufacturers are facing a struggle in the face of global competition and the costs of being based in London," said Dan Keech, from the Food Unit. "We need to think about how to make the food system in London both economically viable for more people and support manufacturers ."
The move follows a report by the LDA and London Food Link -- run by campaigning food group Sustain -- which highlighted problems facing the food sector. The report found that despite 31,000 people working in food manufacturing in the capital and 8% of greater London being farmland, 80% of food eaten in London is produced beyond its borders.
Short-term priorities for London Food are likely to be energy efficiency and waste management in manufacturing as well as improving access to healthy foods. Longer term it may look at helping labour retention in the local food industry.