Food Supply

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 1st July 2020.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the level of risk to food security during the next 12 months.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK’s high degree of food security is built on access to a range of sources including robust supply chains across a number of countries, in addition to strong domestic production. In 2018, 55% of food we ate was produced in the UK, 26% was imported from the EU and the remainder from the rest of the world. This diversity helps food supply chains to remain resilient to disruptions.

The response to Coronavirus has reinforced the resilience of the UK food supply chain and our well-established ways of working with the food industry. Industry has responded quickly and effectively to the significant changes in demand to ensure people have the food they need. Government and industry have also worked together to monitor potential economic and business impacts in preparation for the end of the Transition Period. We remain committed to working in partnership to respond to such challenges through considering the further measures needed to support public services, people and businesses.

At present, we expect good domestic production this year and all short-term risks to international food supply chains have stabilised, and we have a free flow of goods into the country. Government will continue to maintain close ties internationally and monitor any risks that arise. The UK is a member of the Agricultural Markets Information System (AMIS) which monitors international food markets on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN. The latest updates show that global stocks of grains and cereals remain high following a number of good harvests.

We are including a new requirement in the Agriculture Bill for the UK Government to report on food security to Parliament at least once every five years, demonstrating the importance we place on this subject. The report will contain information on food supply including the role of strong domestic production alongside diverse sources of supply.

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