IFST Call to Action to Support a UK-wide National food strategy

IFST calls for investment, education and resilience in the food system, in a joined-up UK-wide approach to food policy and legislation.

As the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publish the Government food strategy, IFST re-iterates its Call to Action, published in July 2021. IFST is currently consulting with our members to update and refine this in light of the recent impacts on the UK food system as a consequence of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and Britain’s exit from the EU.

IFST welcomes the publication of the Government’s National food strategy and would like to re-state its view that the strategy’s scope should cover the entire United Kingdom. We recommend that a UK-wide Food strategy needs to be ambitious and holistic with a clear pathway to implementation, whilst addressing the interdependencies of the food system. Strategic investment in food research and supporting infrastructure is urgently needed to build the UK’s global position as a leader in food research and development, driving innovation and providing technological solutions fit for a sustainable future food system.

Additionally, deliberate and coordinated efforts are needed to ensure all UK citizens have access to nutritious, safe, affordable, delicious and sustainable food. They must be supported to ensure they have a clear understanding of food, diet and food sources, which allows them to follow a culturally relevant, healthy and balanced diet.

IFST has identified three key areas which should be addressed to ensure future food security for the UK.

  • The need for a long-term truly UK-wide national Food strategy - not just for England
  • A government-backed investment strategy, to build a productive, innovative and resilient industry with strong foundations in science and technology
  • A need to inform and better educate consumers on healthy, sustainable diets to empower them to be true citizens in relation to eating healthily and sustainably.

We also emphasise the need for food system resilience to be built-in into an overarching Government plan, ensuring the capacity to survive shocks, adapt to change and make a pivotal contribution to a thriving UK economy, including highly professionalised operations that provide equitable and rewarding employment for those working in them.

Food should be a priority at the highest level of Government in the UK. Joined-up thinking is needed with clear, capable and strategic governance, integrated across all Government departments and agencies, and stakeholders to benefit all actors in the UK food sector. We look forward to engaging further with all stakeholders on the recommendations presented in the independent National Food strategy Report by Henry Dimbleby, and the resulting Government Food strategy.

The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) is the UK’s leading professional body that aims to advance the application of food science and technology for the benefit, safety and health of the public. Our wide-ranging professional membership comprises stakeholders working in all corners of the food system, who are directly involved in the evolution of the UK food sector.

Our values place scientific evidence at the core of any engagement with the public, policymakers and members, ensuring that evidence remains central to future UK food system developments.

IFST’s call to action presents a vision for an inclusive UK-wide Food strategy, highlighting our key imperatives and reiterating our commitment to support Government, industry, academia, citizens and IFST members in achieving this vision. The position is downloadable via this link: https://www.ifst.org/resources-policy/ifst-policy/ifst-publishes-call-action-support-uk-wide-national-food-strategy