Resilience of the UK Food System in a Global Context
GFS has launched a major interdisciplinary research programme “Resilience of the UK Food System in a Global Context” (GFS-FSR). Co-designed by funders and stakeholders, it aims to help policymakers and practitioners optimise the resilience of the UK’s food system to environmental, biological, economic, social and geopolitical shocks.
The UK food system is vulnerable
The UK imports around half of its food, and our diets are very varied demanding a wide range of foodstuffs to be available year round. Environmental, social, political and economic stresses interact to make the UK food system vulnerable to disruption. For example, extreme weather (an important aspect of climate change), conflict, currency fluctuations all affect crop production, logistics and trade. The effects of these food system ‘drivers’ (especially powerful when they occur together), lead to volatility in food supply and affordability.
The UK food system is complex
The UK food system involves many activities from producing and processing, to distributing and retailing food. All these activities are influenced by social, policy, technological, market, environmental and economic forces, trends and shocks. A change in any one activity has repercussions across the system, affecting food security, other socioeconomic and environmental goals, which feed back to food system drivers.
The UK food system can be more resilient
The GFS-FSR programme will improve understanding of how the UK food system can increase its resilience to shocks and stresses. The programme will fund and coordinate a number of collaborative research projects to produce new evidence and recommendations for policy and practice. This will help create a more efficient and resilient UK food system in a changing world.
Find out more about the GFS-FSR programme.
Phase one projects
- Securing the future of the UK’s favourite fruit (BananEx)
Lead: Daniel Bebber, University of Exeter
Partner institutions: University of Oxford, UN FAO, BananaLink, 3Keel
- Increasing resilience to water-related risks in the UK fresh fruit and vegetable system (FF&V)
Lead: Tim Hess, Cranfield University
Partner institutions: University of East Anglia, NIAB EMR (formerly East Malling Research), University of Oxford, Institute of Natural Resources, South Africa
- Integrating Knowledge for Food Systems Resilience (IKnowFood)
Lead: Bob Doherty, University of York
Partner institutions: The University of Manchester, University of Liverpool
- Predicting the impacts of intensification and future changes on UK Pig Industry Resilience (PIGSustain)
Lead: Lisa Collins, University of Leeds
Partner institutions: University of Reading, University of Lincoln, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- Resilience of the UK food system to Global Shocks (RUGS)
Lead: Mark Rounsevell, The University of Edinburgh
Partner institutions: Scotland’s Rural College
Phase one projects were awarded in August 2016, see: £9 million funding to optimise UK food supply and tackle global food security.
Phase two projects
- The role of Phosphorus in the resilience and sustainability of the UK food system
Lead: Professor Paul Withers
Partner institutions: Bangor University
- Modelling Landscapes for Resilient Pollination Services in the UK
Lead: Professor Simon Potts
Partner institutions: University of Reading
- Resilient dairy: socio-technical innovation for dairy resilience and sustainability
Lead: Professor Mark Reed
Partner institutions: Newcastle University
- Sustainable economic and ecological grazing systems – learning from innovative practitioners
Lead: Dr Lisa Norton
Partner institutions: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
- The role of livestock in food system resilience in remote, upland regions
Lead: Dr Ann Bruce
Partner institutions: The University of Edinburgh
Phase two projects were awarded in October 2017, see: £4.9 million to further increase resilience and sustainability of the UK food system.