Pig sector ‘looking forward to being part of the solution’ – NPA response to National Food Strategy

The NPA has said the British pig sector is ‘looking forward to being part of the solution’ in response to the publication of the new National Food Strategy.

The association’s chief executive Zoe Davies welcomed elements of Henry Dimbleby’s landmark strategy report, which calls for fundamental reforms of the UK’s food industry to address concerns over the impact of poor diets on the nation’s health and farming’s impact on the environment.

She said the pig sector was well positioned to play a positive role in helping to deliver its objectives of healthy food, net zero emissions and educating the next generation.

There are few direct references to the pig sector, other than to the impact of global intensive pig production on animal health and antibiotic use, illustrated by a picture of a high rise piggery in China, but there was at least recognition that pig production is generally very efficient, she said..

The overarching themes within the report could, however, have a big impact on the UK pig sector if they are adopted by the Government, which has promised to issue its response within six months.

“Although we certainly don’t agree with everything in there, especially the passing misleading comments about pig production, which aren’t relevant to the UK, this report is well written, forward thinking and challenging,” Dr Davies said.

“There is a huge amount in there to consider and applaud, particularly when it comes to the healthy eating agenda, the drive towards net zero emissions and educating the next generation about food, something the NPA is passionate about.

“I genuinely believe the pig sector is well-positioned to deliver on all of these fronts and we really look forward to being part of the solution.”

Punitive measures

Dr Davies said it was important that the Government does not try to reduce meat consumption through punitive measures, such as taxes, which would be met with strong resistance from consumers and industry.

She welcomed the recommendations on public procurement, which, as long as they specify British food, including pork, could open up opportunities for producers.

The NPA would ‘wholeheartedly support’ the ‘Eat and Learn’ initiative to improve education on food and cooking skills from nursery to A-level, she added.

Food standards

The report outlines a clear policy for Government to ensure these standards are not undermined by cheaper imports produce to lower standards under future trade deals.

“We fully support the strategy’s call for the Government, as a matter of urgency, to draw up a list of core minimum standards, which it will defend in any future trade deals, and set out mechanisms it intends to use to protect these standards,” Dr Davies said.

“It is vital that when the Government issues its response, it does exactly this to ensure our high standards are protected, and we will continue to make this point as more trade deals are negotiated.”

  • You can view the report HERE

Headline recommendations include:

  • A sugar and salt reformulation tax, with some of the revenue to help get fresh fruit and vegetables to low income families.
  • Launch a new ‘Eat and Learn’ initiative for schools.
  • Invest £1 billion in innovation to create a better food system, including research on new agro-ecological techniques and £50m should towards building a commercial ‘cluster’ for entrepreneurs and scientists working on alternative proteins.
  • Strengthen government procurement rules to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on healthy and sustainable food.
  • Introduce a Good Food Bill before the end of the current parliamentary term in 2024, which includes expanding the role of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to cover healthy and sustainable food as well as food safety.
  • Define minimum standards for trade, and a mechanism for protecting them.

The report suggests that by 2032, fruit and vegetable consumption will have to increase by 30%, and fibre consumption by 50%, while consumption of food high in saturated fat, salt and sugar will have to go down by 25% and meat consumption by 30%.

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.