NFU President talks building a sustainable public sector food system

A photo of NFU President Minette Batters. She is standing in a field wearing a blue jacket.

In April, NFU President Minette Batters spoke at the Hospital Caterers Association forum, the leading conference for hospital caterers in the UK.

Within the speech Minette reiterated the importance of the supply chain working “Farm to Fork” to build a more sustainable and resilient food system. Alongside the opportunities for British farmers in delivering more high-quality healthy, safe, traceable meals to NHS patients.

Opportunities for farming and the NHS to work together

Minette highlighted the need to deliver one coherent message to government regarding the importance of a resilient, productive, and sustainable home-grown food sector.

Government must also establish clear standards within public sector catering that supports and protects British food standards and drives transparency within the market.

Minette acknowledged that UK farmers and growers have an opportunity, and a duty, to get the best out of our maritime climate.

Including the need to produce more fruit and vegetables to remain food secure. Ensuring our food is safe to eat, can be distributed efficiently, and that it remains affordable.

At the core farming and the NHS can work together. Minette drove the opportunities to align both food and farming to the NHS’s Net Zero ambitions.

For the NHS, British food and farming can be the answer to achieving their Net Zero ambitions, with British farming being the low carbon supplier of choice.

On the importance of red meat and dairy

Within the questions, Minette was asked about the emissions associated with livestock farming. To which she explained the difference in British beef production, with the average farm having 25 head of cattle being fed a grass diet compared to other global beef production methods such as feed lots.

With British beef being 50% of the global carbon emissions, and British dairy being 40% of the global average the message to the room was that not all food is equal and British food is leading the way.

The role of red meat and dairy in diets was supported by the NHS dieticians at the Conference. In an panel session the topic of plant based diets within hospital catering came up, but was dismissed by the dietician on the panel for not providing a complete balanced diet to patients.

When walking around the trade show section of the conference, it was encouraging to see a number of companies already using British products to supply into the hospital catering sector.

Throughout the two-day event there was a positive message regarding British food, with many of the audience supportive of the NFU message and Minette’s work.

We continue to grow our relationship with the NHS and hospital caterers.

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