Members of the industry responded to a call for evidence that allowed everyone – including producers, farmers, scientists, academics and consumers – the opportunity to shape how food is made, sold and consumed in the UK. The consultation was closed on 25 October.
The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) said it positively supported the creation of a National Food Strategy with the scope to cover the UK, align with UN Sustainable Development Goals (see box below) and addressed the entire integrated independent goods system – not just agriculture.
To this end – and to avoid the unintended consequences that followed a single factorial approach – the industry needed a framework to judge multiple impact factors across sustainability, safety, authenticity, legal compliance, consumer preference, positive nutrition, affordability and ethical welfare, IFST claimed.
It also called for investment to improve access to innovation for primary processors post-farm gate, as well as for small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up 97% of the total number of UK food businesses.
“A paradigm shift in behaviour across food system actors and stakeholders is needed to establish the level of collaboration and cooperation required to deliver an effective UK Food Strategy,” said a statement from the IFST.
“Support for sustainable farming and food processing and the delivery of safe, sustainable food for the UK should be on everyone’s agenda.”
The National Farmers Union (NFU) called the review into a national food policy “long overdue” and urged the Government to take domestic food production seriously if it wanted to put a strategy into place.
President Minette Batters said: “A failure to adopt a meaningful long-term food strategy risks our position as a world leader in affordability, safety and consumer choice, and risks a decline in our capacity to produce sustainable food as a nation.
“We need a food policy that delivers for everyone – from food producers to families across the country, whatever their income. Safe, traceable and affordable food that is produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection is a right for all of us, and it makes absolute sense that British farmers are the number one supplier of this.”
Batters urged the Government through this national food policy to ensure that British food standards were not undercut by an ambition to open up British markets to food that would otherwise be illegal to produce in this country.
‘A food system that delivers for all’
“This is an amazing opportunity to take an interest and show our pride in our food industry and create a food system that delivers for all,” she added.
The British Poultry Council’s (BPC) submission to the consultation highlighted the need for a National Food Strategy that focused on the purpose of food before the production of food.
While technology and innovation in British food ensured efficiency and productivity, a National Food Strategy should give that system both purpose and ambition, it said.
The BPC proposed a strategy built around three key points. First, it must be built on fairness of food, of opportunity and of education, and should drive a circular economy.
Second, the strategy should be delivered through cross-departmental and cross-societal collaboration, with Government, industry and civil society working together.
Its last comment on the strategy was that food supply must be seen as a national security issue and the impact on food should be considered in all legislation.