The latest statistics said that the country is currently 60% self-sufficient in food – meaning it produces enough food to last for 219 days. At current rates and with rising populations, this would slip to a new low of 53% in the next two decades, it said.
The NFU said that it is therefore encouraging consumers, retailers, politicians and the wider food industry to back farming. “What we need now is for farming to be at the heart of decision-making across the wider food industry and government, to allow for more food to be both produced and consumed here in the UK,” said NFU president Meurig Raymond.
Britain’s food and drink industry is worth £97bn (€86bn). With the population expected to boom, there will be around 13 million extra mouths in the UK over the coming decades as home-grown food is predicted to hit new lows. Calling the deficit “worrying”, vice president Guy Smith added: “The prospect of the UK becoming less than 50% self-sufficient should ring alarm bells across all political parties.”
NFU campaign targets politicians
The NFU has now launched a national campaign The Great British Food Gets My Vote this week, urging politicians to back farmers ahead of the general election.
Raymond added: “With less than three months before the general election, British agriculture and the future of domestic food production must be recognised as a hugely important issue for Britain as politicians battle it out.
“Consumers want to buy British food with 86% of shoppers keen to buy more traceable food produced from British farms and our farmers are geared up to produce more.”
Responding to their call for support, the interim director general at the Food and Drink Federation Jim Moseley said it largely backed the NFU’s position. “We use a large percentage of the produce that comes from British farms and that is what shoppers often look for. We would definitely be keen to see more resilience in the food supply chain so it is less susceptible to vagaries in the climate or to political instability,” he said.