Consumers, Europe, UK, Ireland, News June 2024, Organizations in the News, Retail

Joint letter calls on next government to secure future of British food

Ahead of the general election, party leaders are being urged by the UK’s food and drink supply chain to ensure policies on food security are front and centre of their public campaigns, the NFU says in a press release.

The NFU, British Retail Consortium, UK Hospitality and Food and Drink Federation have joined forces to express frustration at the lack of coverage during the campaigns so far as to how the next government will approach the issue despite widespread agreement that “food security is national security”.

The food and drink supply chain is the UK’s largest industrial sector. It employs 7.7m people with a total estimated Gross Value Added of over £240bn.

Political parties have been called upon to set out how they intend to support domestic food and farming sectors, and how they will work to ensure resilient supply chains.

In a letter to the party leaders, the organisations say this omission in public election campaigning needs to be urgently addressed before polling day on 4 July.

Lack of food focus is ‘worrying blind spot’

The letter states: ‘Our food system has shown itself in recent years to be efficient and resilient, maintaining UK food supply through a series of major challenges, including Covid-19, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and new trading arrangements by leaving the European Union.

‘At times those supply chains have come under severe strain, leading to shortages of some food and drink products and increasing costs at all points of the chain from producer to consumer.

‘It would be foolhardy to assume that our food system will always withstand shocks, especially against the backdrop of increased geo-political instability and climate change.

‘The basic responsibility of any government is to ensure its citizens are safe and properly fed. But while we have heard much about defence and energy security in recent weeks, we have heard very little about food security.

‘The lack of focus on food in the political narrative during the campaigns demonstrates a worrying blind spot for those that would govern us.’

An engine for economic growth

The letter makes the case that a thriving food and drink sector functions as ‘an engine for economic growth’, providing varied employment across all entry levels.

Profitable businesses across the food and drink supply chain not only contribute to the UK’s food security but also mean our natural environment can be managed sustainably and protected, and help meet climate ambitions the letter says.

‘A well-functioning supply chain also gives consumers access to a wide range of fresh produce and healthy food, is a crucial aspect of improving diets, alleviating pressure on the health service and improving health outcomes for our citizens.’

Source: NFU. Read the full release here
Image: Credit NFU

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