Home Business News Food security is as vital as energy security, says Labour rising star Andrew Pakes

Food security is as vital as energy security, says Labour rising star Andrew Pakes

by LLB political Reporter
21st Mar 24 8:29 am

The next government should develop an ambitious national food plan to drive economic growth and ensure that UK supply chains are more resilient to future shocks, says Labour and Co-op parliamentary candidate.

Andrew Pakes, Labour and Co-operative parliamentary candidate for Peterborough, argues in a new essay for the Social Market Foundation think tank that the next government should set more ambitious food production targets as part of a new national food plan.

“Food security should rank alongside energy security as part of our DNA for a more prosperous, sustainable and resilient country”, he says.

The essay launches a new collection from the Social Market Foundation, ‘Class of 2024: future MPs on the social market’. Over the coming weeks, the SMF will publish pieces on a range of policy issues, showcasing the ideas of some of the most interesting thinkers across the major parties, hoping to be elected to parliament following the next election.

Food price inflation, the war in Ukraine and episodes of extreme weather have revealed the risks facing the farming and food sector in recent years. Pakes’ opening contribution to the series recommends that next government focus on a new food plan to mitigate these risks.

“He argues that while the UK produces 60% of the food it eats, it needs to go further to be more resilient to future crises. Food production targets should be set “in relation to our national security and economic growth, just as we have ambitious targets in energy and climate policy”, Pakes said.

In his view, there has been no significant plan since the one published by Gordon Brown’s government in 2008. While Theresa May’s government commissioned food entrepreneur Henry Dimbleby to produce a national food strategy in 2018, much had changed by the time it was published in 2022.

In 2023, Dimbleby resigned as government food tsar, frustrated by the government’s lack of progress on obesity.

Pakes says that the proposed food plan “doesn’t have to be about increasing spending but using public leadership and expenditure more wisely and in a joined-up way to deliver greater productivity, sustainability and better public outcomes.”

Food production targets should be supported by regular reports on food security to Parliament, and food security impact assessments should be introduced to ensure that the policy is supporting growth and sustainability in the food production sector, he suggests.

Aveek Bhattacharya, Interim Director at Social Market Foundation, said, “The next parliament is likely to look quite different to the current one, with a number of new faces worth watching, as they bring new ideas and priorities. At the Social Market Foundation, we’re keen to convene and participate in the new policy discussions they are sure to prompt, and I can think of no better place to start than Andrew Pakes’ essay on the need for a national food plan.

From resilience to pay and conditions, poverty to ill health, it is clear that our food system does not work as well as it should. The proposal for a national food plan is a welcome contribution to the debate over what we want from our food system and how to achieve it”.

Leave a Comment

You may also like


Sign up to our daily news alerts

[ms-form id=1]