A detailed report on UK food security published by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has not raised any major concerns about future supplies, despite the fact that only around 54% of food on plates actually originates in the UK.
The need to do a regular analysis of food security is contained in the UK Agriculture Act 2020, which requires the Defra Secretary of State to lay a relevant report before parliament at least once every three years.
The first of these reports published in December 2021 highlights that for government, food security is not just simply about how much food you produce within your own border.
The report also considers the ability of UK households to afford food
Instead, the report authors claim that food security “is a complex and multi-faceted issue”, which includes issues such as the ability of importers to produce food in future, the source of inputs for UK agriculture and supply chain logistics.
The report also considers the ability of UK households to afford food, and consumer confidence around whether the food they eat is safe.
Among some of the main points made by the report authors are that the global food sources that the UK accesses “are secure and expected to remain so in the coming years”.
High-income countries will contribute less to production growth
They also highlight that global agricultural production is expected to grow by 1.4% per annum over the next 10 years, which is ahead of world population growth.
Much of the increase in production is likely to take place in poorer countries as a result of improvements in agricultural infrastructure.
“High-income countries will contribute less to production growth, mainly due to constraints imposed by environmental policies,” notes the Defra report.
However, there is also a recognition that various factors threaten the long-term sustainability of global food production, including climate change and overexploitation of natural resources such as water.