Invasion of Ukraine: UK Food Security

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 28th April 2022.

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Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

What recent assessment his Department has made of the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on food security in the UK.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Ukraine is a significant global producer of many agricultural commodities, such as wheat and sunflower oil. The UK is largely self-sufficient in wheat production and imports a small amount, predominantly from Canada. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a significant impact on commodity prices. We are taking steps to assist the food industry in using alternatives to sunflower oil and working with like-minded countries around the world to ensure markets remain open and trade flows continue.

Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

The conflict in Ukraine shows the fragility of many of our supply lines, and it has certainly increased the cost of many inputs and is disrupting the sector considerably. In order to minimise these effects, will the Secretary of State look again with his colleagues at having a more flexible immigration strategy and at uniting again on our sanitary and phytosanitary approach with the European Union, and take steps to make sure we are putting our food security on the same level as our energy security?

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We do recognise the importance of food security; under the Agriculture Act 2020 we introduced a new requirement that every three years the Government must publish an assessment of our food security, and we monitor that closely. On the wider point, the reality is that food prices and international commodity prices have always been linked very closely to the price of energy, and the sharp spike in gas prices is inevitably going to have an impact, but overall we are still self-sufficient for about 75% of the foods we consume.