NFU convenes Food Security Summit


Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

Published 14 December 2021

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NFU President Minette Batters will chair the Food Security Summit

A coalition of leading food and farming businesses is warning the UK faces a deepening food supply chain crisis unless government takes urgent and meaningful action to fix the structural issues facing the industry.


Ahead of a major food and farming summit today, the organisations are calling on government to set out a positive food and farming policy that creates a resilient and sustainable supply chain to underpin domestic food security.

The summit takes place at the end of a year that saw the first ever mass cull of healthy pigs in the UK, a shortage of seasonal workers that threatened fruit and veg being left unpicked in fields, a shortage of lorry drivers, a limited choice of products on supermarket shelves and a rise in imports due to domestic supply chain issues. Alongside this, record inflationary pressures have affected energy, feed and fertiliser prices.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “Britain’s farmers are world-leaders in producing climate friendly food and, over the past 18 months, have been working hard to keep shelves and fridges full despite many being impacted by severe supply chain issues, particularly worker shortages. Government has tried to paper over the cracks with short-term fixes, but if we want to avoid this crisis continuing, long-term solutions are urgently needed to ensure a resilient supply chain that enables us to continue supplying everyone at home with fantastic produce, as well as leading on the global stage.

“A start would be a serious commitment from government to, at the very least, maintain Britain’s food production self-sufficiency level at 60% and helping to create an environment for farm and food businesses to thrive and compete in the coming years.”

Jayne Almond, Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs, Food and Drink Federation, said: “There is no better industry than food and drink - from farm to fork - to level up the United Kingdom. With a footprint in every constituency, food and drink provides local jobs and makes a significant contribution to the UK’s economic performance. However, supply chain issues and rising costs are challenging manufacturers like never before. This important summit must consider how we can work together to support our producers and manufacturers, while ensuring UK shoppers continue to get the food and drink they want, at the right price.”

Dr Zoe Davies, Chief Executive, National Pig Association, said: The UK pig sector is still in meltdown as worker shortages continue to impact our ability to process the number of pigs we already have on farms.  The entire food supply chain and government must pull together and resolve the backlog now or we will have no independent pig producers left. Already 60% of the pork eaten in the UK comes from the EU – it would be a travesty to see this figure increase as more healthy UK pigs are culled on farms and their meat wasted.”

Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability, British Retail Consortium, said: “The government needs a coherent food policy to maintain UK production, including a clear strategy for solving labour shortages throughout the supply chain. Food retailers and producers are working hard to adapt to a post-Brexit world, ensuring supply chains can continue to deliver quality and affordable food for everyone.”

Ash Amirahmadi, Managing Director, Arla Foods UK, said: “The UK food and farming sector is experiencing shortages in a range of areas caused by local and global factors that are putting real pressure on the supply chain, increasing costs and, ultimately, prices. These strains are not going to go away as we work to become even more sustainable and compete for the best people to come into our industry. Collaboration between government, the industry and farmers is the only way to address this for the long-term and all of us at Arla are ready to play our part.”

Bob Carnell, Chief Executive, ABP UK said: “The UK is one of the most environmentally competitive beef producers globally. We have the opportunity to further enhance this position and become a global leader through improved use of data and technology at farm level and adopting a whole farm approach to sustainable beef production. To help deliver and give UK consumers and other markets access to the best beef in the world, we need to attract and retain more skilled workers from home and abroad and ensure a level playing field for quality British meat when compared to imports.”

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