NFU23: Building business resilience

22 February 2023

An image of the panel on stage during the Building Business Resilience session at NFU Conference 2023

“Why do we need to create a more sustainable food system,” asked Ash Amirahmadi, managing director of Arla Foods UK in a session entitled: ‘Building Business Resilience’ on the second morning of NFU Conference.

In short, the food and farming industry faces a dual challenge over the next 25-30 years: a world population that’s expecting to exceed 10 billion people and correspondingly needs 50-60% more calories, but at a time when climate change and the need to hit global temperature targets is all the more pressing.

“It’s a massive societal challenge,” said Ash.

The NFU has set the ambitious goal of reaching net zero GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions across the whole of agriculture in England and Wales by 2040, with detailed sector resilience plans also launched at conference, providing a framework for future action across UK agriculture.

Tellingly, both Ash and Assad Malic from pub and hotelier Greene King agreed that despite the cost of living crisis and inflationary pressures, both retailers and consumers remain focused on climate change and sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

“Increasingly,” said Ash, “our customers – the retailers – are embedding sustainability into their business.”

Watch NFU23 coverage online

Assad added: “We conducted a survey a few months ago with 2,000 of our customers – and, after cost of living – climate change and mental wellbeing were their biggest concerns.”

The challenge for farmers, NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw acknowledged, was the pace and scale of change and how this could positively feed into farm finances. The advantage for farmers, said Ash, was that much of the money is potentially in farmers’ hands – the data, the action and the proof points. “They are in our control,” he said.

“We can accelerate the change by collaborating together, sharing learning and focus by measuring our climate mitigation measures.”

Ash Amirahmadi, managing director of Arla Foods UK

Climate mitigation plan

For Assad and Greene King their climate mitigation plan means many things, including encouraging their clientele to choose lower carbon meals, reusing and recycling packaging, and investing in renewable energy.

The challenge to bring emissions down remains incredibly complex and will hugely vary from business to business. Certainly knowing your numbers and having a plan is seen, across the board, as key to the climate mitigation agenda.

“We can accelerate the change by collaborating together, sharing learning and focus by measuring our climate mitigation measures,” concluded Ash.

A theme picked up by Assad as he stressed the importance of the entire food chain working together to bring about positive change. “We can’t reach our goals without you the farmers. You can’t make the transition without the security of customers like us,” he said.

Meet the speakers from this session

Tom Bradshaw

NFU President

Tom farms in partnership with his wife, Emily, and his parents in North Essex. Alongside a small owned farm they run a larger contract farming business growing a range of combinable crops across 950 hectares in North East Essex.

The home farm is based around arable production but has also diversified into equestrian and renewables.

Tom has represented the NFU from Local Branch Chairman through to Chair of the National Combinable Crops Board.

Tom was elected to the position of NFU President in February 2024.


  • Animal health and welfare incl. bTB
  • Trade and standards
  • Climate, energy and net zero
  • Food supply chain (fair dealing, mergers and acquisitions, competition, regulation)
  • Animal ID and movements
  • Assurance review
  • Taxation and fiscal policy
  • Immigration

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