The Value of Food
15 September 2022
Is now the right time for a much-needed food value reset?
Current high rates of inflation – and its causes – are exacerbating the problems of a broken food system and highlighting the need for a food supply that is resilient to shocks and works for both food businesses and consumers. We need to fix the food system and we need to start with a food value reset which nudges Britain towards greater food security.
In this discussion we reflect on the business, cultural, policy and political considerations that reinforce the consumer expectation of low-price food. Then we turn our attention to how we encourage a revaluation of food pricing based on a greater understanding of the true costs of food production in monetary, environmental, socio-economic and welfare standards. And with inflation soaring, we cannot escape asking how growers and producers can improve margins while food is becoming more unaffordable for many.
On 13th June 2022 the government published its Food Strategy and awe will ask the panel of speakers to investigate the potential of that document to support a food value reset. Can it strengthen home-grown food businesses, boost food security at a national level, make high-quality, nutritious food accessible to all parts of society and educate consumers about the value of food and the industry that produces it?
This round table discussion is being recorded as part of a new series of podcasts hosted by Rural Policy Group and MHA, business advisors, tax specialists and accountants to the agriculture and rural business sector.
George Freeman MP
Member of Parliament for Mid Norfolk
Elected to Parliament in 2010 after a 15 year career in the Cambridge cluster founding high-growth technology companies, George has served in the last three Governments as UK Trade Envoy, the first UK Minister for Life Science, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board and Minister of State for Decarbonisation, Disconnection & Digitalisation at the Department for Transport. He is most recently served as Minister for Science, Research and Innovation at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and previously led the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR).
As Founder of the 2020 Conservatives Group of MPs, author of Britain Beyond Brexit and Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum, Freeman is a leading Conservative voice for a New Generation of Conservative Reform, Regeneration and Renewal after the divisions of Brexit and the Covid recession. A long-standing localist committed to bold decentralisation as core to unlocking the UK as a Innovation Nation, Freeman has written, spoken and worked around the country to promote new approaches to decentralised growth, levelling up and regeneration.
After leaving university, Freeman worked in Westminster as a Parliamentary Adviser at the National Farmers’ Union and as founding Secretary of the Rural Economy Group of Parliamentarians.
Daniel Zeichner MP
Member of Parliament for Cambridge and Shadow Environment Minister
Daniel Zeichner is the Labour MP for Cambridge and Shadow Environment Minister. As a life-long environmentalist, Daniel is an executive member of Labour’s national environmental campaign group (SERA), making the case for a shift to a greener tax policy. He is a member of Greenpeace and he has brought leaders on divestment to speak in Cambridge.
He is also a bee fan – he is a passionate Species Champion for the Ruderal Bumblebee and he campaigns to stop bee-killing pesticides.
Daniel is active in a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups concerned with the environment, technology and health including Climate Change, Design & Innovation, Environment, UK Innovation Corridor, Life Sciences and Medical Research.
Clarke Willis MBE FRAgS
Director, Norfolk Food Enterprise Park
Clarke is a Director of the Norfolk Food Enterprise Park which is developing major processing and support facilities for the agrifood supply chain in the Eastern region. The 100 acre Park is situated by the A47, 5 miles from the Norfolk Research Park. First occupiers are now on site – Condimentum Limited who are processing the mint and mustard for Colman’s. Future includes a Food Innovation Centre with 13 food grade “start-up” units and a central Hub with test kitchens with marketing and academic support from the UEA and a large Vertical Farm development with Fischer Farms.
Clarke was CEO of Anglia Farmers, the £260m agricultural input supply co-operative for 15 years until his “retirement” in June 2017. AF sourced approximately 10% of UK inputs into farmers and supported supply chains into Waitrose and Tesco. His career also encompassed Board roles at British Sugar plc, Dengie Crops and Dalgety Agriculture.
He is a Trustee of Harper Adams University Development Trust, trustee of Norfolk FWAG (environmental charity) and a member of the New Anglia LEP Skills Advisory Panel and AgriFood Industrial Council.
He was awarded an MBE in 2016 for Services to Agriculture, and awarded Fellowship of Royal Agricultural Societies in 2019.
Prof. Simon Pearson
Professor of Agri-Food Technology, Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology
Simon is the Founding Director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology at the University of Lincoln and a Professor of Agri-Food Technology. His research interests will have profound implications for how we grow, produce and supply food. They include a diverse range of agri technology applications including robotic systems, automation, energy control and management, food safety systems and novel crop development, the environmental physiology of fresh produce and ornamental crops, including impacts on crop quality and development, the post-harvest physiology of vegetables, fruits and cut flowers, including the use of modified atmosphere packaging, the effects of light manipulation on crop growth and development, including the development and application of greenhouse spectral filters and LED lighting systems, the development of on-farm decision support systems from remote sensing information and the development of pre and post farm gate supply and demand forecasting systems.
Prior to his current responsibilities, Simon has spent his career straddling the commercial and academic aspects of horticulture as a researcher and lecturer in fresh produce, MD of Winchester Growers, Europe’s largest grower of cut flowers for UK supermarkets, a produce technologist for Marks & Spencer and a horticulture lecturer with circa 100 publications to his name.
Sarah Calcutt NSc
Chair of the National Fruit Show and NED, Covent Garden Market Authority
Sarah is a 6th generation farmer from the Weald of Kent. Originally trained as a classical musician she had returned to the family business by her mid 20’s and has spent the subsequent 20 years working within the vibrant food and farming community of the UK. In addition to running Partners in Produce Ltd, her successful business growth and communications consultancy, she is also the Operations Director of British Apples and Pears Ltd, Chair of the National Fruit show, SE Chair of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust, Council member of the Rural Policy Group, NED for Outfield Technologies, Deputy Chair of the Agri-EPI Centre, NED for Covent Garden Market Authority and NED for Tech fresh produce start-up business COGZ.
Jose De Mayne Hopkins
Sustainability & ESG Technical Director Lead
Jose is an ESG risk assessment expert with more than 11 years of big 4 experience auditing global large listed groups and complex entities within the Agricultural, Renewable, Technology and Mining sectors. In the last 2 years Jose has been applying his in-depth technical understanding of environmental (including climate risk), social, governance, accounting, assurance and financial reporting standards to support, validate and challenge organisations translate and disclose material ESG related risks and opportunities. Jose is passionate about a transparent and fair presentation of climate change reporting, consideration of material ESG risks and net zero transition plans.
Jose strong technical knowledge and understanding of the Task Force of Climate Related Disclosures (“TCFD”) strategic framework helps Jose provide support to a wider range of business in developing a resilient ESG strategy, setting up responsibilities for the Board and Management, integration of material risks in the risk management framework and support the alignment and evaluation of material ESG risks in the IFRS financial statements.
Mark Lumsdon-Taylor ACA MSc
Partner, MHA MacIntyre Hudson
Mark is a Chartered Accountant and corporate financier with special interests in food & farming, rural business, ESG and a belief that business must be underpinned by sustainable finance. He established Rural Policy Group in 2019 following 16 years in the rural economy working with both public and private sector businesses. Mark has won numerous awards for his work including Finance Director of the Year 2007, Accounting for Sustainability 2012 (ICEAW), National Business Finance Director 2014 (Finance Director) and the Institute of Directors Blue Ribbon award for Governance and Finance Excellence in 2018.
Mark is a member of the ICAEW Farming and Rural Business Committee and a CBI Southeast Councillor.