The need for cheap food has become a marketing strapline for a particular business model that has commodified and financialised food systems so that the needs of the poor and the vulnerable have become an excuse to provide profits for a small number of global food businesses. We are interested in challenging some of the thinking and assumptions that lie behind prioritising cheap food over healthy food.
Below you will find recent research, FFCC's responses to the National Food Strategy, case studies, podcasts and more to bring together our work (and the work of others) to try to transform food and health across UK countries.
As concerns over the cost of living reach fever pitch, family finances are more tightly balanced than ever. Food, and assumptions about the need to keep food ‘cheap’, have become embedded in public discourse. But who really benefits when food price is the only consideration – and what kind of food are we feeding those who are most vulnerable in our society?
Our latest report, Hungry for Health: what citizens want from food, sets out to understand better how people make decisions about food by talking to some of those who exemplify the very people cheap food is supposed to help.
The UK has a food sector worth over £100 billion, some of the cheapest food in Europe, and 4.7 million adults who are worried about where their next meal will come from. These numbers suggest that there are important questions to be asked about who really benefits from the current system.
This research demonstrates a clear demand for high quality food – food which people see as good value for money – and which is good for health and the environment. People and producers also want strong community food systems that would enable them to access it.
In this discussion with the Sustainable Food Trust we challenge the assumption that more cheap food for those in food poverty is the answer to food insecurity in UK nations. Research shows that if there was less food waste and a move towards healthier diets, there would still be enough food, grown by fair and sustainable farming practices, to feed the UK.
The National Food Strategy for England is an important and timely call to action. It is clear that changing food and farming is a critical part of tackling the climate, health and nature crises and the Plan lays down a serious challenge to government and business to act now. Better public health and a more sustainable society are within our grasp.
The Food Builds Communities report shows that communities that work with food can creating lasting change. It highlights how communities’ work on food can help shape a new national food system and ensure a more sustainable food future.
The current food system operates at a high cost to nature, climate and health, but this report shows that many communities are already taking significant action. With the right support and policies, local communities could be at the forefront of leading a transformation of our food system.
Research conducted by FFCC shows that, if you provide the right messaging, 70% of citizens would support the government enacting policies to reduce the impact of food production on the environment and 62% see that it is government’s responsibility to set policies and regulations so that it is easier to eat healthy food.
Shifting the system shows that people want governments and businesses to be brave and bold on food issues.
The actions we take by 2030 are critical. FFCC's landmark report, Our Future in the Land, sets out radical and practical ways for policymakers, business and communities to respond to the challenges.
FFCC’s work is now turning to implementing those recommendations. The UK needs to level the playing field for a fair food system, ensuring healthy food can also be good business. It also needs to commit to growing its own supply of fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses, as well as other products (from fair and sustainable farm businesses), and to using them more in everyday foods. Public procurement is a key lever in this transition, and the UK has the opportunity both to implement a world-leading public procurement process, and to use this powerful tool to transform the market.
We know that communities can build lasting change through good food. Expanding collaborative community food plans will help inform and implement national food strategies to meet the different needs of communities around the UK.