There are many challenges facing the food system which will impact the choice of food we have in the future. The question is; how are these challenges going to be met head on?
I’m sure you’re aware of all the various food issues that have hit the headlines recently. The horsemeat scandal helped illustrate how meat products are traded internationally, often passing through numerous hands before reaching your table.
All of these stories demonstrate how complex food supply chains can be, as well as how vulnerable. As one woman from Cardiff put it:
‘Food is supposed to be a necessity we can’t do without, yet they’re making so much money out of us they’re willing to give us anything and put stuff in it for us to crave it.’
But there are also longer-term challenges. Whether it’s an increasing global population (forecast to be over nine billion by 2050) or the effects of climate change threatening supply chains (such as flooding), more food will need to be produced with less.
Challenges facing the food industry
We wanted to make sure that your views were front and centre when the government, retailers and manufacturers plan how to tackle these food security and sustainability problems. So in conjunction with the Government Office for Science and Sciencewise, we commissioned research to explore public views on these challenges.
In a series of two-day workshops in Cardiff, Glasgow and London, we invited participants to debate their priorities for Britain’s future food supply, the wider food system and their expectations.
The report’s published today and we’ll be discussing the implications of this research with the government, as well as with the food and farming industry. You can have a read of the report here. But, in short, people were shocked to hear about the scale of the challenges facing the food system and how this may impact on the availability and choice of food in the longer term. One Londoner said:
‘I’m quite up to date on current affairs, I read the paper and newspaper articles on Facebook and things and I haven’t really seen anything. I think that’s kinda why it was such a shock on the day, this information, it’s just not talked about really.’
However, once they heard about the issues they thought it was imperative that something needed be done. The research considered views on some possible solutions to these challenges, including new farming and production methods.
Participants expected strong, independent oversight – including over food safety. And they called for action from all those involved in the food chain including retailers, manufacturers, caterers, farmers, government and consumers to address the challenges facing the food system. That’s something we wholeheartedly agree with.
If we’re to have a food system that’s secure and sustainable in the future, policymakers need to put your views at the heart of their work. So make sure to tell us what you think about the challenges facing our food system and the action you’d like to be taken.