UK has lowest level of food security in Western Europe


So we don’t agree with DuPont on many things.

But we do agree with them that the results of their latest global survey into food security (partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit) are something to worry about.

The survey uses three metrics to examine the relative food security of 105 countries in the world:

  • Availability
  • Affordability
  • Quality and safety

The FT covered the findings of the Global Food Security Index yesterday.

And it’s not looking good for the UK, which comes in at 20/105 countries surveyed, behind Italy but ahead of South Korea, reported the newspaper.

“Among the wealthiest western European economies, the UK was towards the bottom of that group,” said Leo Abruzzese, director of global forecasting at the EIU.

The reason?

Britain’s increasing reliance on imports for the dinner table – a trend that since the 1980s has been flagged by the government and farmers alike.

  • One meal in three is imported
  • Indigenous produce that for years has been grown here is increasingly being imported from overseas as shoppers demand seasonal fresh foods throughout the year.

According to the NFU, Britain produces 60 per cent of the food we eat.

For indigenous foods the figure is 78 per cent, down from 90 per cent in the 1990s.

Much of the very-British-sounding cheddar cheese hails from Canada and Australia.

With beans, Britain has gone from producing twice as much as can be consumed domestically to just half in the space of a decade.

This dependency on imports couldn’t come at a worse time.

As climate change and peak resources destabilise global agriculture, we cannot assume the world will continue to meet our demands for asparagus in February.

Because the supermarket shelves are groaning with produce – dozens of varieties of potatoes, hundreds of types of cereal, aisles of cheese – it is easy to forget the precarious position we are in.

Here’s a reminder

In the fuel protests of 2000, we were, in the words of Andrew Simms, ’9 meals away from anarchy.’

If it happened again today, we wouldn’t be much better off.

Let’s sort it out.

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