The UK’s oldest thinktank, the Bow Group have warned that the UK’s food supply chains could be on the brink of collapse, due to the economic fallout.
The group have said that Britain could run out of food in a new report and have called on the government to “take urgent action to prepare for such a crisis and restructure.”
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group said, “If UK imports fall by just 13% and domestic production also falls by 13%, very realistic figures in the context of coronavirus or any other global crisis, British people will shockingly be at real risk of running out of food.
“It is very likely that even with a smaller reduction of five to 10% of production/imports the public would have to cut down on many current staples and the cost of many types of food would skyrocket.”
The UK currently imports 50.07% of its food from overseas, and only produces 49.93% domestically.
They are warning that the government needs to stock up and buy raw materials and non-perishable foods, as the report says imported food can drop by 38%, which could see food supplies run out.
To combat this problem the group are calling on a “land army” of British workers to be incentivised to pick fruit and conduct agricultural work, as there is little foreign labour.
the Bow Group stated, “We propose that a system be set up in which students are incentivised to pick fruit in the summer terms, in exchange for alterations to their loans, and in which long-term unemployed men and women deemed ‘fit for work’ be prioritised for seasonal employment.”
Harris-Quinney said, “Coronavirus not only presents an immediate problem, with lockdown at home and abroad leading to a sharp decline in food production and transport, it also raises long term questions about global trade and food supply, and the extent we can continue to rely on foreign imports to feed the British public.
“Our domestic food production is not just dangerously low in itself, but it is also dependent on over-stretched and fragile international and domestic supply chains.
“This will be an issue not just for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic itself, but for long afterwards. As with World War II, rationing continued over a decade after the war had ended.”