Here at Land Ocean Farm we have a vision that we can play a significant part in reducing the amount of food imported into the UK. Whilst our focus is solely on aquaculture and producing healthy, nutrient-dense and pollution-free seafood, we take a keen interest in the wider UK food sector. In this part one of a three part blog Rasel Mahmud, our Project Leader takes a look at the extent of the UK home-produced food deficit.
It may not come as a surprise to many that the UK is not producing all the food that its inhabitants consume. The extent of the deficit may surprise some though. The latest figures from the UK Government for 2019 show that only 55% of the food and drink we consume here, originates here. The proportion of the food we consume that comes from the UK has fallen steadily since the 1980’s when according to figures from the NFU the UK produced 78% of the food consumed by its inhabitants.
Historians believe that the period between 1805 and 1815 was the last time the UK was fully self sufficient, a situation forced upon us by the Napoleonic War, cutting off imports. This required such a significant ramping up of food production capacity that the period came to be known as the Agricultural Revolution. Prior to that you have go as far back as the Bronze Age circa 750 BC, when the UK was believed to be fully self sufficient in food.
Mind the gap
Research by the Food Foundation shows that were every single person to have their 5 a day, produced from within the UK we would need to produce 2.1 million tonnes more food than we currently do. We are only 18% self sufficient when it comes to fruit and 55% self sufficient when it comes to vegetables (a figure that has dropped by 16% over the past two decades). We import £11.5 billion worth of fruit and vegetables whereas we only export £1.3 billion. We import 721,000 tonnes of seafood a year, of which 78,000 tonnes are prawns and shrimps.
However, one shouldn’t fall into the trap of underestimating the size and importance of the food supply chain to the UK economy as the food supply chain industry generates 6.8% of UK economic value, worth £107 billion and accounts for 4 million jobs.
In part two of our blog we take a look at why the gap matters and how we got to where we are today.
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