‘Unattractive’ National Food Strategy unwrapped
Yesterday’s news was in part consumed by references to Boris Johnsons initial response to one of the proposals put forward by the National Food Strategy (part 2).
As Corporate Finance Director at PKF Francis Clark, a firm that acts for a number of food and drink manufacturers and well as producers/ farmers, I was keen to have a look at the report as the proposals at least indicate a direction of travel that will or may impact our clients and the wider South / South West economy.
According to the Foods Standard Agency, the National Food Strategy “deserves to be widely read and deeply considered by everyone with responsibilities for any part of our food system. Its compelling narrative focuses attention on the urgent challenges facing the food system and how we must work together, across government and industry, to create a system which is good for the health of people and the planet.” The key points from the report are as follows:
National Food Strategy Part 2 – background
The 289-page Independent Review (The Plan) follows on from part 1 which had seven specific recommendations, four of which have been implemented by the UK government since it was published a year ago – indications of fair degree of traction.
The brief for the authors has been to “take a close look at how the food system really works, the damage it is doing to our bodies and our ecosystem, and the interventions we could make to prevent these harms”. Part 2 focuses on:
- The junk food cycle
- Invisibility of nature
National Food Strategy Part 2 – Recommendations
The report contains a total of 14 recommendations under four strategic objectives, which are as follows:
|Escape the junk food cycle and protect the NHS||1. Introduce a sugar and salt reformulation tax. Use some of the revenue to help get fresh fruit and vegetables to low income families
2. Introduce mandatory reporting for large food companies
3. Launch a new Eat and Learn initiative for schools
|Reduce diet-related inequality||4. Extend eligibility for free school meals
5. Fund the holiday activities and food programme for the next three years
6. Expand the Healthy Start scheme
7. Trial a Community Eatwell programme, supporting those on low incomes to improve their diets
|Make the best use of our land||8. Guarantee the budget for agricultural payments until at least 2029 to help farmers transition to more sustainable land use
9. Create a rural land use framework based on the Three Compartment Model
10. Define minimum standards for trade, and a mechanism for protecting them
|Create a long-term shift in our food culture||11. Invest £1 billion in innovation to create a better food system
12. Create a National Food System Data programme
13. Strengthen government procurement rules to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on healthy and sustainable food
14.Set clear targets and bring in legislation for long-term change
In addition to the grabbing headline ‘sugar and salt tax’ there are several other recommendations which would impact businesses (directly or indirectly) if implemented. Those of particular interest are those that are in italics above.
For an indication of the views of interested parties I would suggest having a read of this article.
PKF Francis Clark
I will be sharing a link to the report with a few colleagues at PKF Francis Clark who, along with me, comprise our Food and Drink team. I will also be sharing it with colleagues who are part of our Rural Services team (acting for many farms/ farmers/ landowners) as the report, as evidenced by some of the recommendations, focus on food production at least as much as food manufacture.
What is clear (to me) is that there is recognition that there is truly no such thing as a free lunch and we have to consider the costs that may not be factored into the production of food currently – be they environmental costs, social costs and / or health costs.
I applaud the author of this report for coming up with practical recommendations to help address some of the most challenging issues of our time. I will be interested to see the UK Government’s White Paper responding to the proposals, expected to be published in six months’ time.