Sustain alliance welcomes launch of the National Food Strategy

The Sustain alliance has warmly welcomed today’s launch of the National Food Strategy, led by Defra and involving government departments that deal with public health and the UK’s industrial strategy.

Photo: Greenwich food co-op

Photo: Greenwich food co-op

The terms of reference for the National Food Strategy [1] were launched today (Thursday 27th June), with the strategy development and consultation process to be led by one of Defra’s non-executive directors Henry Dimbleby. [2] The terms of reference set out the ambition for the food system in England that:

  • “Delivers safe, healthy, affordable food, regardless of where people live or how much they earn;
  • Is robust in the face of future shocks;
  • Restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation;
  • Is built upon a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector;
  • Is a thriving contributor to our urban and rural economies, delivering well paid jobs and supporting innovative producers and manufacturers;
  • Does all of this in an efficient and cost-effective way.”

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of the Sustain food and farming alliance [3]  said:

“A National Food Strategy could play a pivotal role in delivering sustainably produced and healthy food for everyone, as well as better livelihoods in food production. It could also support the transition to environmentally friendly farming and fishing that are now imperative. We are excited about the ideas, collaboration and optimism that the Food Strategy has already started to generate and look forward to taking part.” 

Ben Reynolds, deputy chief executive of the Sustain food and farming alliance [3]  said:

“For Sustain, a visionary food strategy has been the big missing jigsaw piece for building a Better Food Britain, post-Brexit. We have already been hearing from groups up and down the country along with national organisations and charities who see this as not just a good opportunity, but a necessity, in order to fix a faulty food system. We now need to ensure that the public, MPs, and all those working throughout the food sector get behind the National Food Strategy, and get involved in shaping it to make it more than just another report, but rather something that has a really positive and lasting impact." 

Barbara Crowther, coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign [4], run by Sustain, said:

“The National Food Strategy must contain the perfect balance of ingredients for public health alongside a healthy, sustainable food and farming economy. The Government has already set an ambitious target to halve childhood obesity by 2030, as well as tackle other diet-related diseases including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The strategy's recipe for success should include curbing the excessive marketing and promotion of highly processed food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar; supporting schools to deliver healthy, sustainable food and nutrition education; and using fiscal measures so that healthy food is once again more affordable and available than unhealthy food.”

Vicki Hird, coordinator of the Sustainable Farming Campaign [5] run by Sustain, said:

“Agro-ecological farming must lie at the heart of a National Food Strategy, actively supporting the resilience of our farmers, soils, biodiversity and climate to a provide a reliable supply of good food for everyone. We need a National Food Strategy that recognises these links, using incentives, training and regulatory measures to make healthy food from agro-ecological farming methods the norm and ensuring a fairer supply chain. In an era of climate change, we must also face up to the pressing need to reduce our dependence on animal products, with the meat and dairy that we continue to enjoy coming only from high welfare, environmentally-friendly production methods.”

Ruth Westcott, coordinator of the Sustainable Fishing Campaign [6] run by Sustain, said:

“Too often, the fish on our plates comes from endangered stocks or highly damaging fishing practices that wreck the marine environment. In future, we must guarantee that all fish comes from verifiably sustainable fisheries. A National Food Strategy could support fishers to make this transition through better scientific data, fishery improvement programmes, with supermarkets and foodservice companies buying fish only where it meets robust sustainability standards.”

The National Food Strategy will apply to England. Parallel processes are underway in Scotland as part of the Good Food Nation [7]; and in Wales as part of a wide range of work on food and farming policy, including the Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales initiative; the Welsh Food and Drink (industry) strategy; and the Brexit and Our Land consultation, which enters its second phase in July 2019 [8].


Sustain has been undertaking a consultation with our alliance members on key priorities for our collective response to the forthcoming National Food Strategy consultation. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more:  

Links to further information 

  1. National Food Strategy:
  2. Henry Dimbleby:
  3. Sustain food and farming alliance:
  4. Children’s Food Campaign:
  5. Sustainable Farming Campaign:
  6. Sustainable Fishing Campaign:
  7. Good Food Nation:
  8. Food policy work in Wales, see for example:

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