It has been prompted by major challenges facing the future of food and farming, such as a growing global population, changing patterns of habitation and the evolving global economy, changing demands for food, effects of climate change on food production, the need to increase yields whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the drive to improve the environmental sustainability of food production and consumption.
Within this complexity, our increasingly sophisticated understanding of the relationship between diet and health and the existing shortcomings of diets globally should not be overlooked.
For example, 14 micronutrients are acknowledged to be in short supply among subgroups of the UK population. Importantly, foods already in the spotlight milk, meat and fish are important sources of a number of these. So, careful consideration is required to ensure that dietary change does not compromise nutrition or health.
Meanwhile, tackling unprecedented levels of household food waste estimated by the Waste & Resources Action Programme to carry a retail value of £12.2bn per year in the UK might prove to be a quick win.
There is a growing understanding of the reasons for wastage within the food supply chain and recognition of the potential to stimulate interest in the value of food and the impact of waste on the environment. Improvements in consumer understanding of labelling and food storage will have a part to play, as will innovative technology in the food supply chain that improves shelf-life for perishable foods and semi-prepared meals.
Professor Judy Buttriss is director general of the British Nutrition Foundation