Britain’s farmers, retailers and consumers have been challenged by the supermarket chain, Morrisons, to focus more on locally produced food, highlighting the fact that at present only half (52%) of food eaten in the UK comes from British farms.
Morrisons ‘go local’ call follows the publication of a 36-page ‘British Food’ report, commissioned by supermarket and written by Professor Tim Benton from the University of Leeds.
The report concludes that the UK is currently too reliant on imported foods, especially given the risks attached to climate change and trade wars.
For its part in promoting an increased British-based production, Morrisons is aiming to recruit more than 200 new suppliers from across England, Scotland and Wales this year.
Professor Benton, meanwhile, said that in light of uncertainties globally it makes increasing sense to build a stronger local food sector in the UK, adding that in leaving the EU, British farmers may also need to leave behind some of the subsidies which are currently available to them.
Pointing out that this could place the UK farming industry in similar circumstances to those faced by New Zealand farmers in the 1980s, he also said: “It makes sense to hedge our bets and build a more resilient system, providing more food, and more diverse food, for the nation.”
While adding that UK food in the future might become more expensive as a result, he maintained the country stood to enjoy the upside of home-produced food becoming more secure and diverse.