The UK will need to change the way food is produced and processed if it is to continue to be affordable and healthy, said environment secretary Hilary Benn as he published the country’s first food security assessment.
The report shows that the UK has a diverse food supply, which includes UK production, and a strong distribution system. However, it highlights upcoming challenges such as a changing climate that will affect what and where food can be grown, the importance of using water effectively on crops and the depletion of fish stocks.
“Last year the world had a wake-up call with the sudden oil and food price rises. While we know the price of our food, the full environmental costs and the costs to our health are significant and hidden,” said Benn. “We need a radical rethink of how we produce and consume our food.”
The UK Food Security Assessment is part of a package of initiatives that include: Food 2030, an online discussion seeking views on the future of our food supply; ‘Food Matters: One Year On’, which provides an update on progress of the 2008 Cabinet Office report; and draft indicators for the sustainability of the food system.
“Our food strategy will need to cover all aspects – production, processing, distribution, retail, consumption and disposal,” Benn added. “And that includes the impact on our health, on the environment and future productivity, and on how we deal with food waste.”