New food standards strategy embraces increased food supply pressures

Preparing for a future increase in “pressure” on the UK’s food supply is one of the key drivers being used in the development of a 2015-20 strategy by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The impact of climate change, continued world population growth and changes to the global economy have all been identified as major issues during the FSA’s  new strategy deliberations. 

The development of the 2015-20 strategy is one the agenda items listed for discussion at the next “open to all” FSA Board meeting which takes place in Belfast on September 10.

Key considerations, listed by FSA in a discussion paper issued ahead of the Belfast meeting, include:

  • The scientists who study food systems are clear that climate change and its consequences are likely to impact on the amount and types of food produced in the world in decades to come.
  • Predictions suggest that if consumption patterns do not change, agricultural production will need to increase by 60% relative to 2005 to meet food demands in 2050.
  • Changes to the global economy are likely to put extra pressure on Europe and the UK in terms of access to food.  Historically, we were able to access more than our fair share of the world’s food supply, but as other economies grow very rapidly more of the world’s food supply is purchased by those countries. So as we look forward to the future it is clear that there will be increased pressure on our food supply.

The discussion paper also gives an insight into the general direction in which FSA is heading:

“We think that a lot will change in food over the next 25 years, but it isn’t clear how much will have already happened by 2020, but that’s the nature of trying to look into the future.  So we will try and be ready to work with others and deal with the future pressures on the food supply whenever they appear.

“We want to build on the FSA’s heritage, finding new ways of effectively putting the consumer first and making sure that other people do too, and being even more effective in applying evidence to work out what is in consumers’ best interests. 

“We also need to develop some new approaches, building our ability to communicate really effectively and influence business and consumer behaviour.  We propose to place even greater emphasis on collaboration, contributing to agendas led by others, more focus on supporting safe innovation to support food security, and new emphasis on considering the choice, affordability, and sustainability aspects of our interventions.”

The strategy debate will also feature in the FSA’s October open meeting, ahead of a final document being produced in November.

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