Henry Dimbleby’s independent report on the National Food Strategy for England was published on July 15.
Dimbleby, one of the founders of the Leon restaurant chain, the leading non-executive director at DEFRA, and also the co-author of the school food plan, sets out 14 recommendations to achieve four key objectives, namely and in brief:
Escape the “junk food cycle” and protect the NHS through the introduction of a sugar and salt tax;
Reduce diet-related inequality by extending eligibility for free school meals;
Make best use of land by guaranteeing the budget for agricultural payments until at least 2029, and;
Create long-term shift in food culture through a £1bn investment in innovation to create a better food system
The report has been broadly welcomed by many, and it is hard to argue with the objectives of building a better, more sustainable food system and a healthier nation.
However, some of the specific recommendations have proved more contentious. Those relating to taxes on salt and sugar used in food manufacture were not initially welcomed by the Prime Minister – the tax proposed on salt would add 5-6p to the cost of a loaf.
Meanwhile the proposed model for agriculture and food production would imply radical changes to land use if applied as proposed, which might be difficult to achieve without compulsion and changes to planning law. The review suggests that farm support should be maintained until 2029, a longer timescale than currently proposed by government.
UK Flour Millers will be participating in the discussion of how and to what extent it might be implemented by government. The government itself has promised that it will respond with its own proposals within six months.
The report can be found here https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/