Food: Production

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Kate Griffiths Kate Griffiths Conservative, Burton

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that food production (a) is maintained at and (b) exceeds its current 60 per cent self-sufficiency level.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 response. It is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Our high degree of food security is built upon supply from diverse sources and strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. This provides us with the resilience we need in the face of risks such as adverse weather, animal or crop disease, or transport and border disruption.

Our production to supply ratio remains high in comparison with historical levels. We produce 60% of all the food we need, and 74% of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year, and these figures have changed little over the last 20 years. The UK's year-round production includes cereals, meats, milk and some fresh produce. We have very high production to supply ratios in poultry, turnips, carrots, swedes, eggs and beef.

Additionally, Defra has well established ways of working with the industry and across Government to monitor risks that may arise. This includes extensive, regular and ongoing engagement in preparedness for, and response to, issues with the potential to cause disruption to food supply chains. We are also working closely with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the Secretaries of State have regular discussions about a range of issues including land use, planning and food production.

Recognising the importance of food production and security of supply, in the Agriculture Act 2020, the Government made a commitment to produce an assessment of our food security at least once every three years. The first UK Food Security Report, published in December 2021, considers the UK's food supply sources overall, noting that domestic production and diversity of supply are both important to our food security. The Report does not contain policy recommendations but will serve as an evidence base for future policy work.

Looking forward, the Food Strategy White Paper will set out Government's ambition for the food system.

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