Original Paper

Food Security

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 617-636

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Priority research questions for the UK food system

  • John S. I. IngramAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment Email author 
  • , Hugh L. WrightAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
  • , Lucy FosterAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeDepartment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • , Timothy AldredAffiliated withFairtrade Foundation
  • , David BarlingAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University London
  • , Tim G. BentonAffiliated withUK Global Food Security Programme and University of Leeds, School of Biology, University of Leeds
  • , Paul M. BerrymanAffiliated withLeatherhead Food Research
  • , Charles S. BestwickAffiliated withRowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen
  • , Alice Bows-LarkinAffiliated withSustainable Consumption Institute and Tyndall Manchester, School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester
    • , Tim F. BrocklehurstAffiliated withInstitute of Food Research
    • , Judith ButtrissAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentBritish Nutrition Foundation
    • , John CaseyAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentUnilever R&D
    • , Hannah CollinsAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentEconomic and Social Research Council
    • , Daniel S. CrossleyAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentFood Ethics Council
    • , Catherine S. DolanAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentSaid Business School, University of OxfordGreen Templeton College, University of Oxford
    • , Elizabeth DowlerAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentDepartment of Sociology, University of Warwick
    • , Robert EdwardsAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentThe Food and Environment Research Agency
    • , Karen J. FinneyAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentMedical Research Council
    • , Julie L. FitzpatrickAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeMoredun Research InstituteSchool of Veterinary Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow
    • , Mark FowlerAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeNestle Product Technology Centre York
    • , David A. GarrettAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeSeafish
    • , Jim E. GodfreyAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeR. J. & A. E. Godfrey
    • , Andrew GodleyAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeHenley Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Reading
    • , William GriffithsAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeSeaWeb
    • , Eleanor J. HoulstonAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgePublic Health, Sheffield City Council
    • , Michel J. KaiserAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeSchool of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University
    • , Robert KennardAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeGraig Producers Organic Livestock Marketing Group, Graig Farm, Dolau, Llandrindod Wells
    • , Jerry W. KnoxAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationCranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University
    • , Andrew KuykAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationFood and Drink FederationNational Institute for Agricultural Botany
    • , Bruce R. LinterAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationPepsiCo International Ltd
    • , Jennie I. MacdiarmidAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationRowett Institute of Nutrition & Health, Polwarth Building, Foresterhill, University of Aberdeen
    • , Wayne MartindaleAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationCorporate Social Responsibility Group, Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University
    • , John C. MathersAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationHuman Nutrition Research Centre, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University
    • , Daniel F. McGonigleAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeDepartment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
    • , Angela MeadAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationSea and Society, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
    • , Samuel J. MillarAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationCampden BRI
    • , Anne MillerAffiliated withFairtrade FoundationEnvironmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
    • , Calum MurrayAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonTechnology Strategy Board
    • , Ian T. NortonAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonSchool of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham
    • , Stephen ParryAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonYoung’s SeafoodBiosciences KTN, The Roslin Institute
    • , Marilena PollicinoAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of CambridgeDepartment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
    • , Thomas E. QuestedAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonWaste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), The Old Academy
    • , Savvas TassouAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonSchool of Engineering and Design and RCUK Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains, Brunel University
    • , Leon A. TerryAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonPlant Science Laboratory, Cranfield University
    • , Richard TiffinAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonCentre for Food Security, Agriculture Building, University of Reading
    • , Pieter van de GraafAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonScottish Government
    • , William VorleyAffiliated withCentre for Food Policy, City University LondonInternational Institute for Environment and Development
    • , Andrew WestbyAffiliated withUK Global Food Security Programme and University of Leeds, School of Biology, University of LeedsNatural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich
    • , William J. SutherlandAffiliated withConservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Abstract

The rise of food security up international political, societal and academic agendas has led to increasing interest in novel means of improving primary food production and reducing waste. There are however, also many ‘post-farm gate’ activities that are critical to food security, including processing, packaging, distributing, retailing, cooking and consuming. These activities all affect a range of important food security elements, notably availability, affordability and other aspects of access, nutrition and safety. Addressing the challenge of universal food security, in the context of a number of other policy goals (e.g. social, economic and environmental sustainability), is of keen interest to a range of UK stakeholders but requires an up-to-date evidence base and continuous innovation. An exercise was therefore conducted, under the auspices of the UK Global Food Security Programme, to identify priority research questions with a focus on the UK food system (though the outcomes may be broadly applicable to other developed nations). Emphasis was placed on incorporating a wide range of perspectives (‘world views’) from different stakeholder groups: policy, private sector, non-governmental organisations, advocacy groups and academia. A total of 456 individuals submitted 820 questions from which 100 were selected by a process of online voting and a three-stage workshop voting exercise. These 100 final questions were sorted into 10 themes and the ‘top’ question for each theme identified by a further voting exercise. This step also allowed four different stakeholder groups to select the top 7–8 questions from their perspectives. Results of these voting exercises are presented. It is clear from the wide range of questions prioritised in this exercise that the different stakeholder groups identified specific research needs on a range of post-farm gate activities and food security outcomes. Evidence needs related to food affordability, nutrition and food safety (all key elements of food security) featured highly in the exercise. While there were some questions relating to climate impacts on production, other important topics for food security (e.g. trade, transport, preference and cultural needs) were not viewed as strongly by the participants.

Keywords

Food security UK food system Post-farm gate activities Stakeholder world views Priority setting Evidence gaps