Major study calls for greener and more efficient UK food system

A major study into Britain’s food system shows how it must change in order to keep food affordable, protect the environment and keep up with increasing world population growth

For the first time, the Government has brought together farmers, manufacturers, retailers, caterers, environmentalists and scientists to work out how to manage the competing demands of producing more food.

The Green Food Project report outlines the first steps to using less energy and water in food production, increasing crop yields, introducing more innovative technology, improving conservation management, valuing ecosystem services and boosting numbers of young people making careers in the food industry.

The report also mentions the need to exchange knowledge between different sectors involved in agriculture.

A previous report on food security, published by the government’s Foresight programme in January 2011, estimated that food production will need to increase 70% by 2050 in order keep up with the growing population. It also estimated that if no action is taken, between 30-50% of all food grown may be wasted.

In response, the Green Food Project examined how future production and consumption could change by looking at five different sectors: wheat, dairy, bread, curry, and different geographical areas.

Among its recommendations, the report suggests that Britain’s farmers could grow more curry ingredients such as herbs, spices and chickpeas to reduce transport needs and to adapt to the UK’s changing climate.

Announcing the report in July 2012, farming minister Jim Paice, called for a rethink of the whole food system: “With our increasingly hungry world every country must play its part to produce more food and improve the environment. We’ve got to show leadership and play to our strengths more efficiently; we’ve got to become more sustainable. We’re talking about the need for a culture change across the entire food chain and this is the first step in a long-term plan to make that happen.”

Project members include the NFU, the Country Land & Business Association, the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, The RSPB , WWF UK, LEAF, British Retail Consortium and Defra.

“Tackling food waste is key to achieving our aim of a zero waste economy,” said Defra. “We are working closely with the food industry to drive down the waste created and ensure consumers have well-designed products and clear information to help them avoid wasting good food. This helps us protect our environment and save people money.”