NFU24: The future for British food

20 February 2024

An image of NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw.

Collaboration and the need to identify common goals were the key messages of the Future for British Food session.

Introducing the speakers, NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said food security was something that should concern every one of us.

“When we look at the geopolitical and climate challenges across the world, enabling investment in UK food production has rarely been more important than now,” he explained.

Sarah Bradbury, CEO of the Institute of Grocery Distribution, admitted that the food industry would be nowhere without British farmers – they were the start of a complex, connected supply chain which had to work together to overcome its challenges.

She said that price remained the overriding concern of consumers, but the industry needed to find ways of reconnecting with the public like it did during the Covid pandemic and broadcast of Clarkson’s Farm, when customer sentiment for buying British had soared.

She called for greater understanding and connection across the supply chain. “If we act together we can be the solution to the challenges. It’s all down to how we connect in this complicated system to be part of the solution that we all know we want to be.”

Professor Susan Jebb OBE, Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said future trade needs to uphold consumer confidence in our food and must have a trusted regulator.

She reiterated points made earlier by both Minette Batters and Rushi Sunak on the importance of food standards, adding that despite the challenges of climate change, Covid and international conflict, food standards appeared to be holding up well.

“That’s not good luck, it’s not chance, it’s down to really hard work by everybody involved in the food system.”

“If we act together we can be the solution to the challenges. It’s all down to how we connect in this complicated system to be part of the solution that we all know we want to be.”

Sarah Bradbury, CEO of the Institute of Grocery Distribution

The challenge of working to high food standards, however, was that the top concern for consumers remains price. Professor Jebb noted it’s “really tricky” for farmers because it meant the supply chain would continue to add pressure for cost reductions at a time when many farmers were already struggling.

To help tackle this, it was important for consumers to see good food as an investment in their own health and the planet, she added.

Concerns around ultra processed foods provided an opportunity for farmers to speak out about the benefits of the minimally processed foods they produce. “This is an opportunity for farmers to wave the flag of the intrinsic value of core foods when they leave the farm gate,” Professor Jebb said.

Looking ahead, working together will be key. “This is something where none of us can do it alone, we absolutely have to work together,” she said.

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UK Hospitality, highlighted how closely her organisation had worked with the NFU on many issues in the past, adding that although farmers and hospitality were at opposite ends of the food supply chain, they had many priorities in common, being largely made up of thousands of small and family businesses facing the same pressures from the rising cost of raw ingredients, energy and wages.

Hospitality offered a vital shop window for quality British ingredients, she said, and the sector could play a major role in educating the of their value. “Together we have a shared aspiration of feeding the nation, feeding it well and making sure we can provide a strong and robust and resilient future for the businesses in the food supply chain from farm to fork.”

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

Sarah Bradbury

CEO, Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)

Sarah Bradbury is CEO of IGD, the organisation that aims to be the essential partner to a thriving food and consumer goods industry.

Sarah is a highly experienced director with more than 25 years’ experience in retail, leading commercial category teams. Most recently, she was Group Quality Director at Tesco.

Professor Susan Jebb OBE

Chair, Food Standards Agency

Professor Susan Jebb has been Chair of the Food Standards Agency since 2021. She is one of the UK’s leading scientists, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

Her recent research has focused on the treatment of obesity and interventions to encourage healthy and sustainable diets.

Susan has a long-standing interest in the translation of scientific evidence into policy. She was the Science Advisor to the Government Office for Science Foresight report on obesity in 2007 and an advisor to Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy (2020-2021).

She has previously chaired the cross-government expert advisory group on obesity (2007–2011), the Department of Health responsibility deal food network (2011–2015) and public health advisory committees for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2013-2018). She was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to public health.

Susan continues to hold a part-time appointment at the University of Oxford as Professor of Diet and Population Health alongside her role as FSA Chair.

Kate Nicholls

CEO, UKHospitality

Kate Nicholls OBE has been CEO of UKHospitality, the powerful voice representing the broad hospitality sector, since its inception in 2018, having previously worked as CEO and Strategic Affairs Director of the ALMR.

Kate is Chair of the Tourism Alliance and co-Chair of the London Tourism Recovery Board, representing the needs of the wider tourism sector in discussions with Government and the Mayor of London. She sits on the Government’s Tourism, Hospitality and Food & Drink Sector Councils and has previously Chaired the London Night-time Commission. She is a Board member of Best Bar None, PASS and is a trustee at Hospitality Action. In July 2021, she was appointed as the first Government Disability Ambassador for hospitality, promoting inclusivity. Kate was appointed co-Chair of the London & Partners’ Tourism Advisory Group in November 2022, who have a critical role in turning London’s 2030 Tourism Vision into reality.

Kate initially worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament on food, employment and environmental policy before joining Whitbread to work in Strategic Affairs. She has extensive experience as a political and strategic communications consultant and is a graduate of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and Kings College London.

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