further & higher education
voluntary sector

The Future of the UK Food System

further & higher education

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:20

Thursday 13 February 2020

Central London

Early Bird Discount Offer

10% off all advertised rates for a limited time only. Discount available to public / voluntary organisations only.


This Forum will provide participants with the opportunity to analyse the future shape of the UK Food System. Key policy leaders will discuss the forthcoming UK Food Strategy, 2020, and how to strengthen food policy post-Brexit. Best practice case studies will share innovative insights into building a more resilient and sustainable food system which promotes healthy, affordable food for all, through pioneering methods, such as urban agriculture, utilising cutting edge technology and creating a resilient local food strategy.


This Forum is specifically designed for Higher Education, Central Government and Non-Departmental bodies. Typical job titles will include:

  • Food Scientists
  • Research Fellows
  • Professors
  • Senior Lecturers
  • Head of Life Sciences
  • Directors of Strategic Research
  • Chief Executives
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Directors of Place
  • Directors of Economy
  • Heads of Operations
  • Heads of Partnerships
  • Directors of Knowledge Exchange
  • Heads of Faculty
  • Heads of Department
  • Directors of Research and Innovation
  • Heads of Research Partnerships
  • Senior Research Managers
  • Research Support Officers
  • Strategic Project Managers
  • Postdoctoral Research Students

This Forum is also open to the Local Government, Voluntary and Private Sectors to encourage debate and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Emily Miles, Chief Executive, Food Standards Agency
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City, University of London (invited)


Morning Keynote: Ensuring a Resilient and Environmentally Sustainable Food System in the UK

  • Examining the public consultation into the forthcoming 2020 National Food Strategy, which aims to address environmental sustainability and nutrition across the food chain
  • Outlining the main issues that the National Food Strategy will tackle, including food waste, food education, nutrition and land use
  • Highlighting the importance of ensuring a sustainable and healthy UK food system, with rising challenges from climate change, loss of biodiversity and the need to deliver healthy affordable food
  • Examining the commitments made in the Paris Agreement, which commits signatories to keep the increase in global average temperature rise below 2 degrees, and how the food system will need to adapt to meet this

David Kennedy, Director General for Food, Farming and Biosecurity, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (invited)


Special Keynote: Shaping the Trailblazing National Food Strategy – Insights and Next Steps

  • Gaining an insight into the first independent review into food and drink in nearly 75 years, which will shape the forthcoming National Food Strategy
  • Ensuring the food industry is fit for the future, supports growth, enhances the environment and is resilient to the challenges posed by climate change
  • Sharing best practice in current initiatives to improve food security and key takeaways to be implemented across the sector and help to build a resilient food system which enhances the natural environment and delivers safe, affordable food for all
  • Examining the role of new technology to revolutionise food supply, such as vertical farming and robotics and carbon neutral manufacturing

Henry Dimbleby, Chair, Independent Review Into Food and Drink (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Special Keynote: Outlining the Role of the Research Network to Improve Food Security

  • Highlighting the crucial role researchers can play in meeting global challenges, through developing innovative approaches to tackle undernutrition and obesity and lead research which addresses the SDG Goal 2 to end hunger through creating resilient, productive food systems
  • Improving access to high quality local, regional and global markets for all aspects of the food system to increase availability of healthy nutritious food
  • Outlining how researchers should be working in partnership with businesses and the voluntary sector to share resources and pool expertise to improve food security
  • Examining the latest technological advances and how they are contributing to the goal of increasing sustainability of the UK and global food systems

Tom Jenkins, Innovation Lead – Agriculture & Food, Innovate UK (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Panel Session: How Can Research be Utilised Effectively to Tackle Food Challenges?

  • How can we drive the consumption of food in the UK to be more nutritious whilst ensuring that it is affordable for all?
  • What role can technologies play in improving UK food resilience and how can we ensure civil participation in new initiatives?
  • How can researchers ensure they are addressing the key considerations of productivity, profitability, sustainability and nutrition?
  • How can we ensure that the UK food system is more resilient whilst still contributing to tackling global food challenges?
  • What can researchers be doing to ensure minimal impact on the UK food system post-Brexit?

Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City, University of London (invited)

Professor Guy Poppy, University of Southampton and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency (invited)

John Ingram, GFS-FSR Coordination Team Leader and Food Systems Programme Leader, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (invited)


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Understanding the Post Brexit UK Food System

  • Discussing the impact of Brexit on international food trade and how this will affect the UK food system, including the potential of longer inspections of food imports at borders
  • Outlining how the Department for International Trade have planned for food channel disruptions post-Brexit and how the UK food system can be adapted to combat potential shortages
  • Highlighting the importance of working with partner countries to create combined responses to the threats of climate change and environmental degradation

Richard Beams, Head of Trade, Food and Drink, Department for International Trade (invited)


Special Keynote: Improving Food Standards Across the UK – The Challenges and Next Steps

  • Outlining the current state of food security in the UK, with 8% of adults lacking sufficient and secure access to food because of a lack of money, and a further 13% of adults marginally food insecure
  • Highlighting the importance of ensuring that healthy nutritious food is readily accessible and affordable for all and the need for developments to be made in the UK food system to ensure this
  • Examining the ‘Regular our Future’ Report, 2017, which outlines proposals for reforming food industry regulation, such as enhanced registration and a new funding model wherein the cost of food regulation would be shifted to food businesses
  • Discussing food safety post-Brexit: implications, challenges and next steps

Emily Miles, Chief Executive, Food Standards Agency (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Creating a Resilient Local Food System – a Local Authority’s Role

  • Discussing the role that local authorities should play in helping to build resilient, sustainable and healthy food strategies for local communities
  • Sharing how Bristol Council worked alongside NHS Bristol to conduct research into the field to fork food chain in Bristol and how a strategy could be developed wherein the city positively influences the food system
  • Examining the Bristol Good Food Plan, which identifies eight key themes that the city needs to address to develop a healthy, viable and equitable food system, including transforming food culture to encourage people to grow, buy and eat local and promoting more community-led food trade
  • Developing a Good Food and Catering Procurement Policy, which outlines how the city intends to improve sustainability in their food system through dynamic purchasing of food
  • Exploring the Bristol Eating Better awards, which encourages local restaurants and takeaways to provide more sustainable, healthy options, and how this has resulted in 140 organisations achieving the award

Nuala Gallagher, Director Economy of Place and Director of Public Health, Bristol City Council (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Increasing Food Production Through Urban Agriculture

  • Outlining how urban agriculture can provide an opportunity to increase food production and shorten supply chains whilst making them more resilient, alongside providing further ecosystem benefits through the rejuvenation of degraded urban landscapes
  • Considering how urban growing can positively impact healthier diets, for example how connecting people to their food and increasing access can lead to better dietary choices
  • Sharing how the Institute created an urban farm in a disused building to grow plants using nutrient solutions in a controlled environment without using soil, due to the extreme deteriorating soil supplies
  • Using specially developed foams that chemically, physically and biologically resemble soil to grow crops that grow two to ten times faster than plants grow in soil and highlighting how this can tackle food insecurity

Professor Duncan Cameron, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food, University of Sheffield (invited)


Case Study: Collaborating Across Research and Business to Increase Local Food Supply

  • Outlining the importance of growing more food in the UK to reduce carbon footprint, reduce imports and increase food production, whilst ensuring that the produce of certain foods is not limited by environmental factors
  • Discussing the importance of researchers working closely with private sector businesses to combine expertise and resources to develop innovative solutions to the challenges facing the food sector
  • Utilising vertical farming and LED lights to grow a variety of produce, controlled by a mobile phone app
  • Working in partnership between the Institute and IGS to use innovative technology, such as Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, to control the elements of ‘sun’, ‘wind’ and ‘run’ in experiments, for example through adjusting intensity, brightness, pulsing and dimming
  • Considering how existing plants have adapted to deal with factors like drought resistance, pest resistance and disease resistance, resulting in a change in taste and nutrients, and how using technology to optimise ideal growing circumstances can improve the quality of plants

Professor Deb Roberts, Director of Science, The James Sutton Institute and David Farquhar, Chief Executive, Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

We will need to produce more food in the next 35 years than we have ever produced in human history, according to estimates by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. This is in addition to estimates that by 2050 we will need 120% more water and 42% more cropland, whilst becoming 70% urbanised. This is in the context of an ever-growing population, with the UK population projected to increase to more than 74 million by 2039.

Food insecurity in the UK and globally is increasing, with 8% of adults lacking sufficient and secure access to food, and a further 13% of adults marginally food insecure, according to statistics published by the Food Standards Agency, 2017. Poor diet is the biggest risk factor for early deaths worldwide, leading to 1 in 7 deaths in Britain every year, whilst an estimated 70,000 premature deaths could be avoided each year if UK diets matched nutritional guidelines.

With further insecurity caused by environmental factors, alongside Brexit uncertainty, the UK government has responded by ordering the first independent review into food and drink in nearly 75 years. This review will feed into the forthcoming 2020 National Food Strategy, and will consider how to ensure that the food industry is sustainable, resilient and can meet the challenges of the modern world, whilst simultaneously providing nutritious, affordable food that is accessible by all.

To support researchers to develop initiatives to tackle the urgent issues facing the UK Food System, UKRI have announced £25 million of funding in partnership with the government for research initiatives that will transform the UK Food System. They have urged the sector to lead pioneering interdisciplinary research which would link healthy and accessible diets with sustainable food production.

Local authorities have also been warned to prepare to set up ‘food resilience teams’, to help limit any impact Brexit may have on food supply chains and build local resilient food networks.

It is therefore vital that the higher education, local government and voluntary sectors are developing pioneering approaches to safeguard the future of the UK dood system. This will require leading initiatives to increase food supply through innovative agriculture initiatives, developing local resilient food strategies and utilising technological advances to produce more nutritious, affordable and sustainable food.

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