National Food Strategy sets vision for future

Long-awaited report calls for major shake-up to food system
Selection of winter vegetables

An independent review of food policy in England has today (July 15) been unveiled.

Part two of the National Food Strategy (NFS), released by businessman Henry Dimbleby, calls on the government to commit to a plethora of reforms to build a better food system for a healthier nation.

Commissed by government, the report calls for the introduction of the world’s first Sugar and Salt Reformulation Tax, with some of the money being used to expand free school meals and support the diets of those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods. It also calls for food education to be central to the national curriculum, and for food standards to be protected in any new trade deals.

The NFS report sets out how our diets will need to change over the next ten years in order to meet the government’s existing targets on health, climate and nature.

By 2032, fruit and vegetable consumption will have to increase by 30%, and fibre consumption by 50%, while consumption of food high in saturated fat, salt and sugar will have to go down by 25%, and meat consumption should reduce by 30%.

Maintaining our high standards must never be up for debate, and we warmly welcome the report’s support for ensuring these standards are maintained and protected in the UK’s international trade strategy

CLA President Mark Bridgeman

CLA President Mark Bridgeman said:

“The National Food Strategy is a welcome addition to the debate about the future of land use and food production in the UK, alongside the critical issue of diets. The focus on nature friendly farming methods, such as regenerative agriculture, and the need to pioneer new techniques to increase crop yields whilst also protecting the environment are very positive recommendations, and will resonate with many in the farming community.

“The strategy highlights the need to properly reward farmers for environmental improvements above and beyond what they already do. Farmers often make very little profit from their efforts, and while so many of them are already undertaking a wide variety of environmental works, it is vital to recognise that any major change in land use proposed as part of Dimbleby’s vision should be driven by the market and positive incentives, rather than through compulsion.

“Government must understand the important role livestock plays in environmental management, and it needs to avoid succumbing to the false narrative set by campaign groups that meat is inherently bad. The report rightly recognises the world class environmental and animal welfare standards of British food. It is precisely because of these standards that government and industry can argue with confidence that consumers should buy British meat – as well as other British food – as part of a healthy and environmentally conscious diet.

“Farmers want to farm, and there is both demand and need for high quality British food both in domestic and overseas markets. Maintaining our high standards must never be up for debate, and we warmly welcome the report’s support for ensuring these standards are maintained and protected in the UK’s international trade strategy.

“It is right to consider alternative ways of farming and different uses for land. Enhanced tree planting and peatland restoration will play an important role in further boosting landowner’s efforts to mitigate climate change and biodiversity decline. But any change in land use, particularly to the extent that the strategy recommends, must be driven by the market and positive incentives rather than compulsion – and not come at the expense of the country’s ability to feed itself.”

Long-term vision

The NFS report estimates that the recommendations will cost around £1.4 billion per year and bring in £2.9 - £3.4 billion per year of direct revenue to the Treasury. Over the long term, they will have an economic benefit worth up to £126 billion.

The strategy aims to transform our food system for the benefit.

National Food Strategy - Part two