Secure and resilient food systems
"Food remains one of the few real essentials for life. It is
important that Recipe for Success recognises this and places the
provision of affordable and healthy food for all at the heart of
our national aspirations."
Rev. Prof. David Atkinson
Food security can be described as "when all people, at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active healthy life" (World Food Summit, 1996). Scotland is food secure but global change can impact on us either directly or through impacts on our markets.
The food price spikes across the world in 2007 and 2008 came after more than three decades of a trend of decreasing prices. The sudden price rises led to food riots in some countries and took an extra 150 million people into malnutrition. Thus they sensitised Governments across the globe to the need to tackle food security and sustainability issues, not only to deal with the short term shocks that can happen to the food system but to ensure the policies being developed will tackle the challenges of an increasing world population and Scotland's changing demographics.
Annual Consumer Price Index (
rate for each month
Nov 2007-April 2009, UK
A recent Chatham House study concluded "What we had thought of as an abundant food supply is anything but. Western Societies, in particular have tended to take their food supply for granted "and that "Government's need to do more to understand the potential impact of this challenging agenda."
Achieving global food security while meeting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require a balance to be struck to achieve high productivity with a low carbon footprint. Scotland with its ability to produce quality food particularly livestock products from grass and heather, has an important part to play in meeting that challenge.
Scotland has long been dependent on imports to complement domestic production in meeting our food needs. The supply of food and drink is reliant on highly complex domestic and global food chains. These may be vulnerable to both short and longer term emergency situations which could disrupt this supply. Resilience is the ability to reduce the risk from such emergencies allowing people to go about their normal lives with minimal disruption. For food and drink it is essential to ensure sufficient quantities of safe, good quality food and drink are available, at an affordable price.
Progress so far
The Scottish Government recognises the importance of ensuring that we have a resilient food supply chain and that we maintain our ability to produce healthy, nutritious, food in a sustainable manner. That is why we recently hosted the first pan- UK Ministerial Summit to discuss global food matters and their potential impacts. As a country which makes an important contribution to feeding not just the UK's population, we want to ensure that Scotland plays a full part in a more strategic approach to the UK's food supply and beyond.
We have also hosted a "Think Tank" on food security, the outputs of which will be used to help us take forward our thinking in ensuring that we are able to contribute to meeting the global food challenges of a changing world.
In relation to short-term shocks to the food system, we have formed a Resilience Advisory Board for Food - made up of Public Sector and food supply chain interests. Their role is to help plan for crises in food supply from whatever cause and provide advice to Scottish Ministers on food supply issues during periods where that supply has been hampered in some way.
- Ensure we have the right evidence and policy relating to food security on a national and global level. This includes incorporating the findings of our Rural Land Use Study for Scotland in future work relating to food security.
- Maintaining the capacity and skills to produce food and supporting food production as the heart of farming and land management.
- Build food security into the delivery of our farming, fishing and aquaculture policies.
- Support the appropriate legal framework to ensure our food and drink producers, processors, retailers and consumers are treated fairly.
- Evaluate the access to and affordability of healthy sustainable food where this impacts on Scotland's national food security.
- Drive forward the Scottish Government's initiative to bring together Food Ministers from all administrations in the UK to discuss food sustainability to ensure an appropriate sharing of knowledge and best practice.
- Continue in our campaign to be a Fair Trade nation, and encourage more Local Authorities, Scottish businesses, schools, colleges and universities to get involved.
- Continue to fund research in Scotland that will help meet the challenges of food security in this country and the rest of world.
- Publish and follow-up the report "Mapping and analysis of the resilience of the food supply chain in Scotland" to determine what further actions are required.
- Improve our coverage and knowledge of the food supply chain in Scotland and our baseline capacity through research and stakeholder engagement.
Telephone: 0300 244 9802
Food, Drink and Rural Communities