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Food: Consumption

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 23362, tabled on 22 June 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had recent discussions with (a) Cabinet colleagues, (b) Devolved Governments and (c) Local Government on the promotion of the consumption of proximate seasonal produce.

Answered on

27 June 2022

This Government wants people at home and abroad to be lining up to Buy British. We will always champion our farmers and producers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food, and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public. The recently published Government food strategy sets out our aim to broadly maintain domestic food production at current levels as we deliver our climate and environmental aims.

We work closely with industry and trade associations to engage with and support initiatives that highlight the qualities of British meat, dairy, seafood and fruit and vegetable products. During the pandemic we worked with industry to promote fish caught in UK waters, seasonal veg, and supported the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s campaign on milk and dairy to the British public. To support producers in promoting their products we hosted a Regional Food and Drink Summit in March 2022. The Summit brought together SMEs and regional organisations to share best practice and access support to grow their business. Building on the success of the Summit we will continue to offer specialised regional support and engagement with food and drink SMEs.

We welcome efforts from all parts of the food chain to promote and source British products. We will lead by example in the public sector, using our purchasing power to champion local, healthy, sustainable, and high-quality food. The consultation on public sector food and catering policy, launched alongside our food strategy, proposes a mandatory standard on menu cycles and seasonality. In this consultation we propose that public sector menus must vary throughout the year to reflect the natural growing or production period for the UK, such as cauliflower and butternut squash in the winter, and new potatoes, berries and lamb in the summer.

Due to the UK-wide and international nature of the food system, we have maintained regular engagement with the Devolved Administrations during the development of the food strategy. Responsibility for public sector food procurement is devolved to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the proposed changes therefore apply to England only.  However, we work closely across the Devolved Administrations to share best practice and ensure public sector food policy is complimentary.

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