A radical rethink of the way the UK produces and consumes food is needed if the world is to have enough food in the future, DEFRA has warned.

Launching an assessment of the sustainability of the UK’s food supply, DEFRA said climate change, animal disease and water shortages could impact upon food production across the globe.

The increase in growing crops for fuels and a growing population eating more could also take its toll.

While the UK was doing well in many areas to create a sustainable food system, DEFRA Secretary Hilary Benn said it still needed to do more to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and cope with climate change.

“We need a radical rethink of how we produce and consume our food,” Mr Benn said.

“Globally we need to cut emissions and adapt to the changing climate that will alter what we can grow and where we can grow it.

“And because we live in an interconnected world – where the price of soya in Brazil affects the price of steak at the local supermarket – we need to look at global issues that affect food security here.

“That’s why we need to consider what the food system should look like in 20 years, and what must happen to get there.

“We need everyone in the food system to get involved – from farmers and retailers to the health service, schools and consumers.”

The UK Food Security Assessment, which looks at the future of food production up to 2030, identifies increasing productivity, access to healthy and safe food and preserving natural resources as three big challenges which need to be met.

“Our food strategy will need to cover all aspects of our food – production, processing, distribution, retail, consumption and disposal,” Mr Benn added.

DEFRA will publish a food strategy for the future later in the year, drawing on responses to the consultation launched today.