Government must provide “a well-functioning supply chain” says industry

Government must provide “a well-functioning supply chain” says industry

Members of the UK food industry have called on Government to ensure policies on food security are prioritised ahead of the general election on Thursday 4th July.

The letter underlined the importance of reducing non-tariff barriers with key trading partners to support UK food and drink within the global market.

Signatories of the letter included the National Farmers’ Union, British Retail Consortium (BRC), UK Hospitality and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). The bodies expressed frustration at the lack of coverage during the campaigns so far as to how the next Government will approach the issue of food security.

The letter set out six urgent priorities for whichever party forms the next Government to ensure British food is available at all price points in an “increasingly uncertain and unstable world”. Priorities included:

  • A planning system that allows investment in modern buildings and infrastructure
  • Work with the food and drink sector to deliver a plan to achieve our net zero ambitions
  • A coherent industrial policy that includes a tax framework incentivising investment, fosters research and innovation in the UK, takes a joined-up approach to immigration, skills and employment policies that ensure the sector has access to the labour it needs
  • An agricultural budget that enables the delivery of environmental objectives, delivers targets for climate and biodiversity
  • An approach to trade that seeks to reduce non-tariff barriers with key trading partners
  • A long-term partnership with industry to tackle obesity and health inequalities in communities across the UK

Urging party leaders to address the omission in public campaigning, the letter stated: “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.

“A thriving food and drink sector is an engine for economic growth.”

“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.

“Getting these policies right has multiple benefits for our country and the public beyond simply guaranteeing our food security. A thriving food and drink sector is an engine for economic growth, one that is spread equitably across all parts of the UK and which provides varied employment at all entry levels.”

The letter highlighted the importance of keeping farm land healthy in order to support the chain.

The letter continued: “Furthermore, maintaining productive and profitable businesses across the food and drink supply chain not only contributes to our food security, but also means, with over two-thirds of our land used for farming, that our natural environment can be managed sustainably to protect our environment and help meet climate ambitions.

“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.”

The letter concluded by saying these policies were “critical” to the future health of the nation, with industry bodies reiterating once more that Government would need to address these issues.

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