Food touches every part of our lives. But the way it’s produced, distributed, marketed and consumed raises serious policy questions. The National Food Strategy is an independent review that considers how the UK food sector currently works and what options are available to achieve safer, healthier and more sustainable food systems.
I was an external technical expert working with the Defra team that supported the review lead, Henry Dimbleby. My focus was the role of innovation, and specifically the opportunities and limitations of advances in data science and digitalisation to transform our food systems.
The review involved an assessment of the available evidence on the state of the food system and potential options to address issues within it. It also relied on consultation with stakeholders throughout the food chain – from ‘farm to fork’, and with all relevant government departments. The review culminated in The Plan., published in July 2021. It sets out a vision for our future food system and proposals for how to achieve it. The scope of the review is England, but it covers relationships with the devolved administrations in the UK as well as with the EU and other trading partners. The Plan makes recommendations to government, which will formally respond to the review with a White Paper within six months of publication.