In 2010, Hilary Benn, the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, unveiled the government’s food strategy report, ‘Food 2030’. The strategy set out the food security challenges facing Britain at a time of rapid population growth, climate change and the rising cost of raw materials and oil.
It wasn't the first time a British government had devised such a strategy. At the end of the Second World War, Clement Attlee’s administration published the UK’s first food strategy, which at the time was designed to ensure future food security across the country following a period of enormous global upheaval. Today, for different reasons, the issue of our food security is again in the spotlight.
"Food security is as important to this country’s future wellbeing – and the world’s - as energy security. We need to produce more food. We need to do it sustainably."
The Food 2030 report details a list of steps to be followed to secure the UK's food supplies for 2030 and beyond, as follows:
- Consumers should be informed about, be able to choose and be able to afford healthy sustainable food
- Food should be produced, processed and distributed to feed a growing global population in ways that:
- Use global natural resources sustainably
- Enable the continuing provision of the benefits and services that are given to us by a healthy, natural environment
- Promote high standards of animal health and welfare
- Ensure food safety
- Make a significant contribution to rural communities
- Allow us to show global leadership on food sustainability
- Food security should be ensured through strong UK agriculture and food sectors and via international trade links with EU and global partners that support developing economies
- The UK should work towards having a low carbon food system that is efficient in terms of using resources, with any waste reused, recycled or used for energy generation
The Food 2030 strategy is structured around six core issues for the food system:
Source:Food 2030 report
Government’s role in creating a sustainable and secure food system
"It can’t all be done by passing legislation, although there’s a place for that where it makes sense, and just because some people don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong."
The government’s core role in the UK food system, according to Food 2030, is to correct market failures where they arise and to ensure that social equity is maintained.
The strategy report states: "Generally, this will be achieved through the tax and benefit system, but special measures may be needed in some cases to ensure that the more vulnerable in society have adequate access to nutritious food."
Engaging with partners to deliver Food 2030
"Achieving a sustainable and secure food system for 2030 depends on everyone in the food system working together."
Food 2030, page 5
Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee previously underlined the importance of everyone working together in its ‘Securing food supplies up to 2050’ report, which recommended the development of strong relationships in the food supply chain to secure food supplies in the long term.
In tune with this, the Food 2030 strategy states that the government will build on and strengthen its relationships with businesses in the food chain, and those with an interest in food, to deliver a sustainable, secure and healthy food system.
The government’s principles for working with stakeholders will include:
- Mutual trust, openness and transparency in all dealings
- Early engagement on issues
- Working together collaboratively
- Constructive challenge
- Acknowledging disagreement and being open about why there is disagreement
- Basing discussions on evidence
Delivering the Strategy
The government will work with third parties, including the Council of Food Policy Advisers, to map out how to deliver the strategy and develop a timeline for doing so. On behalf of Her Majesty’s government, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is accountable for the delivery of the strategy.
Measuring progress – indicators for a sustainable and secure food system
The government has developed a set of indicators for sustainable food that are aligned with the six core issues for the food system, and it will use these to measure progress in delivering the strategy.
Indicators, of course, only provide an overview of the challenges involved. So for this reason the government will use them alongside other evidence gathered, as well as with feedback from stakeholders. The indicators will be subject to ongoing development.
IGD is here to help
We have developed a seven-point plan for companies wishing to improve food security.
- Make sure every member of staff appreciates the need for sustainable growth
- Build strong partnerships - we won’t succeed with a silo mentality
- Share best practice on sustainability - there will always be a first mover advantage but we need to learn from each other
- Wage war on waste
- Make your supply chain more shockproof
- Use technology to raise productivity
- Bring your consumers with you through compelling communication
We’ll keep monitoring each of these areas. If you’d like to discuss any of them further, let us know.
IGD’s online Sustainability resource
For further information on key points mentioned in the article, please click on the links below:
Food 2030 strategy
UK Food Security Assessment: Detailed analysis
UK Cross-Government Food Research and Innovation Strategy
Securing food supplies up to 2050
Council of Food Policy Advisors
Notes to Editors
- The agri-food sector contributed £80.5 billion to the UK economy in 2007, 6.8% of the total, and it is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.
- 3.6 million people are employed in food and farming in the UK
- In 2008, the value of food exports from the UK was £13.2 billion. The UK imported £31.6 billion worth of food.
- There are 196,000 food chain enterprises in the UK, ranging from large retailers to small cafés.