Food security

Thank you for contacting me about food availability and security.

We all want to do what we can to alleviate food poverty and as such I am encouraged that the Government has taken significant action to make sure people do not go hungry during this pandemic.

The UK and EU reached a trade agreement with no tariffs, fees, charges or quotas across all good sectors, including food. I know that my ministerial colleagues at the Department for International Trade are also devoting their energies to ensuring the UK’s new trade powers help reduce food prices and the burden on British consumers through tariff reduction and a programme of ambitious trade negotiations.

More broadly, the UK has excellent levels of food security and we receive our food from a range of sources including from strong domestic production and overseas imports. Half the food we eat is produced in the UK with an additional 30 per cent coming from the EU and 20 per cent from the rest of the world.

I can also assure you that the Government has very well established means of working with the food and drink industry to minimise disruption to consumers. The Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group provides a forum for discussion between industry and government on food security issues and there is regular contact with the food industry on the progress of the negotiations more generally.

It is encouraging that the UK has long-established relationships with industry, and I am pleased that the Government continues to work with business to ensure that we have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food from a wide range of sources, particularly from British farmers. As you may know, ministers commissioned an independent review into the food system. Part One of that review was published in July 2020 and it gave recommendations to support this country through the turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Part Two of the independent review has also now been published and sets out proposals for measures to combat obesity and improve overall health of children and adults, as well as proposals for specific initiatives to educate children about nutrition at school. My ministerial colleagues will now carefully consider the report's conclusions and respond with a White Paper within six months, setting out priorities for the food system.