Muted response to Government food strategy

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Muted reaction to Government food strategy Henry Dimbleby UKHospitality

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Leon co-founder Henry Dimbleby has criticised the Government's newly-published food strategy, which he advised on, saying it is 'not a strategy'.

The Government unveiled its food strategy white paper yesterday (13 June) following the full publication of Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy last year​, and has received a somewhat muted response from the sector.

Trade body UKHospitality welcomed the plan, saying it 'rightly recognises the importance of the entire food chain to UK communities and economy'.

“With pressures on food supply chains mounting due to war in Ukraine, the publication of the Government’s Food Strategy White Paper today is both timely and welcome,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.

In contrast, Dimbleby has criticised the Government's food strategy, which strips away many of his key recommendations including the introduction of a Sugar and Salt Reformulation Tax to help the country break free from what he called a vicious ‘Junk Food Cycle’.

“It’s not a strategy,” Dimbleby told The Guardian.

“It doesn’t set out a clear vision as to why we have the problems we have now and it doesn’t set out what needs to be done.”

What's in the Government's food strategy?

The food strategy puts a focus on home-grown food, including strengthening supply chains and boosting food production.

Proposals that could impact the hospitality sector include plans to consult on food waste reporting for larger businesses over a certain size; and an ambition for 50% of public sector expenditure on food procurement to be on food either produced locally or to higher standards.

Additionally, the Seasonal Workers visa route will be extended to the poultry sector; and a framework will be published next year on how to help farmers grow more food while also meeting legally-binding targets to halt climate change and nature loss.

There will also be a consultation on how to improve on and expand animal welfare labelling, with the aim of helping consumers identify when products meet or exceed our high UK animal welfare standards.

Dimbleby told the Financial Times​ ​that around half of his ideas had been taken up, including the proposal to produce a framework setting out how different areas of English land should be used — a move he said was an 'absolutely critical part of the environmental transition'.

He said he was pleased to see ministers adopt his advice to establish a food data service and require at least half of food procured for the public sector to be cultivated locally or to higher standards, such as organic.

“On the environment it definitely takes us forward but there is a big gap still on trade, where they haven’t explained how they are going to protect our standards from cheap imports,” he said. “A lot of this stuff needs to be put into statute for it to work.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the food strategy sets out a blueprint for how we will back farmers, boost British industry and help protect people against the impacts of future economic shocks by safeguarding our food security.

“Harnessing new technologies and innovation, we will grow and eat more of our own food — unlocking jobs across the country and growing the economy, which in turn will ultimately help to reduce pressure on prices,” he added.

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