Food for thought

Food for thought

The government is inviting farmers and the public to have their say on a planned shake-up of the UK’s food industry.

Defra says the call for evidence will give people the opportunity to shape how food is produced, sold and consumed in the UK.

Led by Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of restaurant chain Leon, it is the first major review of the UK food system in nearly 75 years.

Responses will inform a new National Food Strategy to be published next year.

It aims to ensure the food industry is fit for the future, supports growth, enhances the environment and is resilient to climate change.

The review will look at what is working well currently and the role of new technology in revolutionising the UK’s food supply.

Taking on board on the views of the general public is welcome. Discussions have already taken place up and down the UK on what a food strategy for England should look like.

Technology’s role will be significant given how we produce our food is primarily through processing techniques, data, and, increasingly, the use of robotics.

According to a recent report from ING, technology helps food manufacturers produce more efficiently. Using technology not only improves processing and packaging, it also improves the shelf life and safety of food.

Robotics and machines will add to this by ensuring quality and affordability. By using machines, it drives down the costs of keeping the food fresh and increases productivity.

According to the report, “The number of robots in the European food industry is well over 30,000, while the number of robots per 10,000 employees rose from 62 in 2013 to 84 in 2017. Although Germany is the largest market, robot density is relatively highest in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy.”

Yet, at the heart of technology’s gains are individuals who will appreciate a considered, constructive food system that empowers them to make their own decisions.

No idea is too big or small, the call for evidence says.

Let’s hope government is true to its word and puts together a food strategy worth writing down.

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