Given the multiple challenges facing the UK food system, the trade group said it is encouraged that several commitments have been made, within that document, to drive resilience and support sustainable food production.
“We are especially encouraged by commitments in the paper to work with farm businesses on volatility and risk management, publish a land use framework, consult on feed additives and their beneficial impacts on emissions, and launch a food data transparency partnership to help drive a mandatory methodology in sustainability claims in food,” remarked Robert Sheasby, AIC chief executive.
AIC, he said, is ready to continue to support such initiatives and to be a part of emerging workstreams.
However, he outlined some of the hurdles that will need to be overcome to ensure resilience in food and feed production in the UK.
“We believe that given the extraordinary challenges to food and feed supplies that the UK is facing, we must take a more strategic approach to core infrastructure across our food supply chain to meet the government’s ambitions. For example, by improving our logistics networks, port capacities, and processing capabilities.”
The organization is calling on the government to provide a clear plan on how it will encourage inward investment into such infrastructure to deliver the measures set out in its white paper.
'A missed opportunity'
The UK government said its review includes policy initiatives to boost health, sustainability, accessibility of diets and to secure food supply.
But Shore Capital analysts said the food strategy lacks foresight, ambition, and vision. They described the publication as a missed opportunity for the UK government to raise the bar on key food security issues along with animal welfare.
The government, they continued, is just kicking the problem further down the road by setting up a series of consultations.
The analysts added that, due to this political inertia, it has long been left to corporates to tackle the real crux of the issue by investing in radical and transformation initiatives: meat producer, Cranswick, through its Second Nature program, and food retailer, Sainsbury, through its Sustainable Dairy Development project.
“The food system is neither resilient nor is it sustainable, and our structural faults leave us open to external shocks.”
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union [England and Wales], believes, however, that the strategy represents a clear milestone.
“The government is recognizing the importance of domestic food production, maintaining our productive capacity and growing more food in this country, particularly at a time when the war in Ukraine has focused attention on the importance and fragility of our global food security.
“Domestic food production and environmental delivery go hand-in-hand and we are proud that British farmers have an ambition to reach net zero by 2040, while still maintaining our current levels of food production. We know the public want to be eating more local, British food and farmers are ready to play their part in producing high quality and climate-friendly food, all while protecting and enhancing our environment.
“We now need to see this strategy develop into clear delivery and investment to capitalize on the benefits food and farming delivers for the country, such as our world-leading standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety.”