Food industry on National Food Strategy: target R&D and skills

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

The FDSC called for greater collaboration between the food industry and Government
The FDSC called for greater collaboration between the food industry and Government

Related tags: national food strategy

The food industry's official recommendations for a National Food Strategy include doubling R&D spend, overhauling Apprenticeships, launching a skills campaign and a call for closer Government collaboration.

The proposals, which build on Henry Dimbleby's National Food Strategy - published in two parts in July 2020 and 2021 - were issued in the Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC) report, ‘Feeding the Future: Working together to build the National Food Strategy’.

The paper sets out the food and drink industry’s recommendations for the UK Government’s National Food Strategy, which is due for publication in early 2022. It shares the FDSC’s vision, ambition and solutions for the future food system.

It made recommendations for Government to work with the sector to help deliver short-term economic recovery and long-term sustainable growth and suggested the creation of an industry skills campaign that champions ‘Great British’ food and drink careers.

Recommendations of industry

Other recommendations included doubling the industry’s research and development spend and more support for small and medium-sized enterprises to access innovation expertise, unlock funding and de-risk investments through demonstrator hubs. A full list can found in the box below.

Stefano Agostini, chief executive of Nestlé UK and Ireland and co-chair of the FDSC Food Strategy Working Group said industry was well aware of its responsibilities, and it must engage the public in the journey to a sustainable and healthier food system, but it couldn’t do it alone.

“Our external stakeholders, as well as the Government, will play a pivotal role in helping us achieve our ambitions set out in this report,” ​Agostini added. “In any National Food Strategy, the food industry must be the solution, and not the problem, for the strategy to succeed. 

‘Valuable contribution’

“The report outlines exactly how industry intends to do that and is a valuable contribution to the National Food Strategy debate.”

Particular attention was drawn towards making a system that was much more resilient to shocks – events such as Brexit and the OCVID-19 pandemic demonstrated bother the strengths and the fragility of the UK food system.

Stuart Roberts, Deputy President of National Farmers Union and co-chair of the FDSC Food Strategy Working Group added: “The food and drink industry is extremely versatile and that is down to the millions of people who work in our industry. It’s fantastic that there are so many people in the industry passionate about producing the food and drink for tens of millions of people every day. 

“This report highlights the importance of collaboration within the supply chain and the vital role that research and development can play going forward to realise the sector’s full potential.”

Feeding the Future report recommendations

  • UK Government to work in partnership with the sector to help deliver short-term economic recovery and long-term sustainable growth
  • An industry skills campaign that champions ‘Great British’ food and drink careers
  • Replace the current Apprenticeship Levy with a comprehensive skills levy, support the take up of T-Levels through industry placements and a greater focus on STEM subjects and food in the education system.
  • Double the industry’s R&D spend and support SMEs to access innovation expertise, unlock funding and de-risk investments through demonstrator hubs.
  • Maintaining strong support for high standards of food production in the UK and the integrity of raw material inputs.
  • Create a ‘Team UK’ approach to trade priorities and promotion across Whitehall and the devolved nations.
  • Achieve sectoral emissions reductions targets for 2030 to indicate the pathway to net zero in 2040
  • A ten-year government strategy encompassing obesity and balanced diets focusing on changing UK food culture

Related topics: Supply Chain, COVID-19, Brexit

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