Environmental Secretary Michael Gove has appointed co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain Henry Dimbleby to lead the first major review of the UK food system in almost 75 years.
To inform the review, Dimbleby will speak with people from along the entire food chain ‘from field to fork’ over the next year to start shaping the food industry of the future. His findings will inform a new National Food Strategy that the Government aims to publish in 2020.
Dimbleby said: “No part of our economy matters more than food. It is vital to life and shapes our sense of identity.
“But there are urgent challenges with which we must grapple. Populations are growing, diet-related conditions are harming the lives of millions, and climate change is altering what our land will yield.”
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.
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“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. I am delighted that Henry Dimbleby will be leading this once-in-a-generation opportunity to cultivate a stronger food system for the future.”
National Farmers Union president Minette Batters added: “I am very pleased to see that the Government is taking food production seriously and putting plans in place for a national food strategy, this review is long overdue.
“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.”
Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright CBE said: “Over the last 70 years we have begun to take for granted that there will be food on our table, yet in truth our food and drink industry is a strategic national asset to be protected.
“It is central to the economic success and cultural fabric of our country and the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. Its contribution to our future growth, prosperity and sustainability is vital.”
British Nutrition Foundation director general Professor Judy Buttriss said: “This important initiative provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to look at food, nutrition and the environment in the round, through multiple lenses.”
Sustain Food and Farming Alliance chief executive Kath Dalmeny said: “A National Food Strategy could play a pivotal role in delivering sustainability produced and healthy food for everyone, as well as better livelihoods in food production. It could also support the transition to environmentally friendly farming and fishing that are now imperative.”
The National Food Strategy will shape the Government’s Agriculture Bill and Fisheries Bill before Parliament, with the Industry Strategy, the Childhood Obesity Strategy and Environment Bill coming up to discuss the biggest environmental challenges the country is currently facing.