Products of Change


Tue 13 Oct 2020 | by Michelle Urquhart

Govt must lead on a UK national food strategy

Tesco CEO, Dave Lewis tells Financial Times “we face the worst public health crisis in generations” In an opinion piece published in the Financial Times on 16 July, the CEO of Tesco Dave Lewis writes: The whole food industry – including retail and food service – must act by evolving ranges, driving innovation and engaging customers. But heavy-duty change cannot be left to the market. The right regulatory context, access to capital and incentives to innovate are critical. He goes on to talk about land use, and our reliance on meat and dairy, improving soil health, investigating innovations such as vertical farming and protecting forests and habitats. But he says that the market cannot make these changes itself. The government must lead on a comprehensive strategy for delivering affordable, healthy, sustainable food for all. “The UK produces only half its food; we must ask tough questions about efficient land use,” writes Dave. “That means eating less meat and dairy, which uses 70% of agricultural land and emits 14.5% of greenhouse gases globally. We cannot do this without incentives for sustainable farming and a strategy to help livestock farmers diversify. Measures are needed to help people adopt more nutritious diets, from fruit and veg subsidies, to a focus on nutrition and diet in education.” He also cites the need for a government mandate for food companies to introduce effective due diligence across supply chains ensuring food sold in the UK is deforestation-free. And incentives for farmers to improve soil health and set up vertical farming practices. Dave believes the government needs to invest in innovations such as methane-reducing animal feed and supplements, and low-carbon fertiliser.