What do the future decades hold for consumers, food suppliers and farmers? There are plenty of challenges, but also opportunities, ahead…
It’s a really interesting and important time for our food. Our food supply chain, food laws and wider approach, such as how farmers are supported, has been closely linked to our EU membership. So we need to decide what we want for the future.
Which? wants to make sure that consumer interests are at the heart of our future food policy – so this week we brought together a range of experts from across the food chain to talk about the challenges and priorities.
Micheal Gove, as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has recently asked Henry Dimbleby, a co-founder of the food chain, Leon, to write a national food strategy for England.
The Scottish Government is also currently consulting on proposals for how to become a Good Food Nation – and across the UK there are discussions taking place about future agriculture.
What’s at stake
Brexit could raise some immediate issues – such as making sure we hold on to important consumer protections and put robust food controls in place.
But it is important that we also take this opportunity to join up the way that food is dealt with across government departments.
“It’s about making sure that the food we import from the rest of the world is produced to the same standards that we have here.”@Minette_Batters — President, @nfutweets #FutureOfFood pic.twitter.com/qh8kqGyDmq
— Which? (@WhichUK) January 16, 2019
At the moment different departments with different priorities all have a role – whether that’s protecting food safety, tackling obesity and other public health issues, promoting the growth of the food industry, how we trade food products or how we tackle the environmental impact of food production.
We know from our research that people expect that food standards will be maintained after we leave the EU – and if anything they think we should take the opportunity to enhance them by improving animal welfare for example.
The majority of people have told us that they don’t want us opening up our doors to products produced using practices that aren’t currently allowed – such as hormone-treated beef or chlorine-washed chicken for example.
Most people also want to support UK producers where its feasible. That’s particularly the case with meat and dairy products, for example, where people want to buy local and support high welfare standards.
“Why not think about getting a much better food system in place now, for future generations?”
— Which? (@WhichUK) January 15, 2019
They also think that support given to farmers should be linked to better animal welfare or food safety, for example.
The experts that came to our conference all generally agreed that we need to value food more and make sure that public health is more of a priority.
In the coming months, Which? will build on the consumer research we have carried out, pushing to ensure that the way we produce food in the UK, as well as what we decide to import, reflects what consumers need and want.
What do you think should be the priorities for the government and food industry going forward? Do you think we need to do anything differently?