1st November 2021

Livestock Transition How might shifts in diet, food technology, and business preferences change the game in the livestock sector? And what should farmers do to respond?

A combination of powerful trends in the food system mean that it is almost impossible to imagine that the UK’s livestock sector will look the same by the 2030s. These trends include much-discussed shifts in food technology, specifically meat and milk substitutes, combined with shifts in consumer sentiment and preferences – the rise of the flexitarian.

But many of the most powerful trends may be less in the public realm. For instance, the shift in food technology could coincide with shifts in food industry preferences. Might retailers and food manufacturers welcome meat and milk substitutes as potentially cheaper ingredients with lower food hygiene hazards or fewer cold chain requirements? Or less exposure to reputational damage, in relation to GHGs, feed sourcing, and ‘deforestation risk’?

9th September 2021

Community-led improvement and levelling up of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods

In Partnership with Local Trust

This St George’s House consultation bought together for the first time in person a number of the participants at the 2020-21 APPG evidence sessions, together with the APPG’s key supporters and stakeholders, to explore in more detail what is effective in neighbourhood regeneration.

Foundational research by Local Trust and OCSI identifies the 225 areas in England which are perhaps the most ‘left behind’ in England. Their 2.4m residents experience the worst outcomes across a range of indicators and many of the issues they face are complex and multi-dimensional.

Understanding the issues facing ‘left behind’ communities, and helping identify solutions which reconnect and rebuild local areas and improve outcomes for their residents has been the focus of the APPG for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. Over the course of seven evidence sessions held from July 2020 to June 2021, it has explored issues ranging from poor connectivity, to health inequalities and education, skills and employment.

We know that there is a lot of good work being done to strengthen and support local communities at a local level – this has been a focus of many of the APPG’s evidence sessions.  But, to date, there has been little in the way of a shared national policy agenda to address the need for levelling up at a hyper-local or neighbourhood level, and respond to disparities in outcomes, particularly in relation to the social infrastructure that is so important to community life and the vibrancy of places.

7th June 2021

Exploring food systems with closer relationships

In Partnership with Food, Farming & Countryside Commission

The World Health Organisation says that one of the greatest risks to planetary and human health is a globalised and poorly regulated agri-food system. Whilst people in the UK pay some of the lowest prices for their food in Europe, the cost of that cheap food has been paid for elsewhere in society, now and for generations to come.

Global farming and food businesses argue that they have improved global health and prosperity by making more food available, more cheaply, in more places than ever before. They argue that integrated vertical supply chains bring consistency and control into a highly dispersed sector; that processing and packaging makes food more safe and secure especially in poor and isolated communities; that trusted brands help people choose food they can rely on and that many people can afford to buy the widest variety of foods ever available. They argue there is no alternative to these methods if we want to ensure that nine billion people can be fed, safely and affordably.

But the evidence is now clear that this strategy has come at too high a price. The food system has become geared towards selling cheap, ultra-processed convenience food at the lowest prices, with serious implications for people’s health and wellbeing. The costs of diet-related illnesses are not just borne by patients and their families; they are borne throughout society, from the cost to the NHS, (Type 2 diabetes alone costs £12bn) and working days lost (£15bn) through to the cost of removing the drugs that treat them
from the water supply (currently incalculable). In the UK, one of the wealthiest countries, nearly 6 million adults are experiencing food insecurity and 1.7 million children live in households that are food insecure. Food insecurity in this case is not caused by a lack of food in the system, but by the inability of people to access and afford that food, especially healthy food.

This consultation brought together diverse and complementary voices across the food system to explore and debate the mechanisms and rationale for developing food systems that deliver multiple benefits. We want to ask, what is the rationale for supporting food systems with closer relationships to the places they are located? What powers do communities need, to be able to act on their local food contexts? What policy objectives create the right conditions for these systems to flourish on a level playing field? What policies are needed to ensure that the right things happen in the right places at the right time?