The UK’s self-sufficiency in staple foods like meat and fresh vegetables has plummeted since the highs of the 1980s, according to DEFRA’s own statistics.
The issue has been raised by NFU president Peter Kendall who is using the NFU Conference to call on the government to reverse the UK’s dependence on food imports.
Mr Kendall said the government must take urgent action to close the UK’s widening food gap as rich countries should not be sitting back and expecting the rest of the world to feed its people.
DEFRA’s own statistics do show that the UK’s self sufficiency has consistently dropped since the highs of the 1980s.
In 1984, the UK was 95% self-sufficient in indigenous food types. In 2009, the most recent year where figures are available, this figure had dropped to 72%.
In terms of the UK’s self sufficency in all food types in 2009, the figure was 59% which is down from a high of 78% in 1984 (see table for more detail).
However, Mr Kendall may find it hard to change the government’s views on what is an acceptable level of imports.
Over the past decade ministers have repeatedly insisted that its policy towards food security is based on an international trade in food and food products.
It is a sentiment that was repeated more recently in the government-backed Foresight Report on the Future of Food and Farming which was published in January 2011.
“Food security is best served by fair and fully functioning markets and by liberalised global trade arrangements, not by policies to promote self-sufficiency,” the document concluded.
“This report rejects food self-sufficiency as a viable option for nations to contribute to global food security, but stresses the importance of crafting food system governance to maximise the benefits of globalisation and to ensure that they are distributed fairly,” it added.
|Year||UK self sufficiency in food (%) for:|
|all food||indigenous type food|
ii 2009 figures are provisional Source: DEFRA
Read more NFU Conference coverage 2011