The Environment Secretary Michael Gove has ordered a review of the UK’s entire food system to make sure it delivers healthy and affordable food “regardless of where people live or how much they earn”.
The “field to fork” study will be led by Leon restaurant co-founder Henry Dimbleby. His recommendations will form the basis of a new National Food Strategy to be published in 2020.
As well as making sure production and distribution are robust “in the face of future shocks”, the review will also examine how the food system can help to restore and enhance the natural environment, build a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector and contribute to urban and rural economies.
Mr Dimbleby, who is a non-executive board member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “Populations are growing, diet-related conditions are harming the lives of millions, and climate change is altering what our land will yield.
“From farmers in the field to chefs in the kitchen, over the next year I’ll be speaking with people from across the food chain to address these challenges and ensure everyone has a say in shaping the future.”
He went on: “I am very keen to talk to people who have diabetes, those on low incomes, farmers who are not part of the political process. I am keen to draw them in.”
Announcing the review, Mr Gove said: “Leaving the EU is a great opportunity for British farmers and food producers. But with an expanding population, the urgent threat of climate change and rising levels of diet-related disease, we face many challenges too.
“That is why the time is right for us to look afresh at our food system to ensure everyone has access to high-quality British food and our environment is protected for future generations.”
National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters said the review was “long overdue”, adding: “It is crucial that this strategy delivers for everyone – from food producers to families across the country, regardless of their income.
“Safe, traceable, affordable food that is produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection is a right for all and British farmers should be the number one supplier of this.”