The Sustainable Food Trust welcomes the first part of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy. He rightly points out how COVID-19 has exposed the fault lines of inequality and ill-health in our country. In particular, we agree with the recommended measures to enhance the health of the next generation, including extending free school meals.

Our concern is that we won’t fix the food problems we face – unhealthy diets, obesity and the need for everyone to have access to high quality, nutritious food – without transforming our food and farming systems in a more sustainable direction.

Patrick Holden, SFT chief executive said, ‘We are delighted with this first report, but the time has come for a more radical intervention to create a mandatory global food and farming metric to drive progress on health and nutrition, climate change and nature. Britain has a huge opportunity to lead on this at the upcoming COP26 and UN Food Systems Summit.’

We are glad to see that the report highlights the dishonesty of current food pricing which fails to account for damage to the environment and public health. Our long-standing work in this area has shown that for every £1 we spend on food we pay another £1 through taxes, insurance and hidden costs to address the negative impacts of intensive food production.

We strongly support the recommendations on mandating the recently appointed Trade Commission to ensure that imported food produced to lower welfare or environmental standards would incur tariffs or taxes. It is essential that these are set at levels which prevent cheap imported food undermining all the patient work that has been done over recent decades to improve farm animal welfare and food safety.

We also believe that the recommendations on trade form the foundation for the UK to provide global leadership in brokering a new international platform for trade in sustainably produced food based on the highest environmental and welfare standards. We know that many people in other countries would welcome any pressure we can apply to help raise standards internationally.

Patrick Holden added, ‘The report constitutes an excellent first step in transforming our food systems. Food production and consumption are at the heart of many of the major problems we face as a society. We look forward to Part 2 of the National Food Strategy and hope that Henry Dimbleby and his team will be brave and fully grasp the opportunity they have to set us all on a path to a more sustainable planet and healthy diet.’

For further comment or interview requests please contact Megan Perry 07761804341 megan@sustainablefoodtrust.org

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