Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Key issues for the UK food supply chain - new EU and global relationships, fairness and environmental sustainability, and moving forward from COVID

Morning, Thursday, 27th May 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is examining the key supply chain challenges currently facing the UK’s food and drink supply chain - and priorities for policy, and for support for those in the sector.

The discussion takes place in the context of the impact of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and pandemic-related disruption.

The agenda will bring out latest thinking in areas such as:

  • the COVID-19 pandemic - implications and priorities including:
    • consumer trust and changing demands
    • building resilience and strategies for recovery
    • food security and the Defra initiatives on food supply
  • transition from the EU:
    • the outlook for trade with Europe and globally
    • navigating regulatory change
    • where support is needed
    • priorities for ports
  • environmental sustainability:
    • the way forward for reducing emissions and waste across the food supply chain
    • the impact of new legal and regulatory frameworks
  • fairness in the supply chain:
    • priorities for the new Grocery Code Adjudicator
    • food pricing
    • setting standards
    • managing compliance and enforcement

We are delighted to be able to include keynote contributions at this conference from Mark White, Groceries Code Adjudicator; Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive, British Ports Association; Phil Bicknell, Market Intelligence Director, AHDB; and a senior speaker confirmed from GS1.

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from Defra; DAERA, NI; the Department for International Trade; Food Standards Scotland; the National Food Crime Unit; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda

  • Building resilience in the UK food supply chain in the response to the pandemic and into the future
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chain - consumer trust and demands, vulnerability in the system, food security, and priorities for recovery
  • The outlook for international trade and the relationship with the EU
  • Priorities for UK ports - responding to new pressures, managing the transition from the EU and preparing for future shocks
  • EU exit and the food supply chain - logistics, navigating regulatory changes, building strength and resilience, and options for supporting the sector to adapt, recover from losses, and overcome workforce challenges
  • Reducing emissions and waste across the food supply chain - the role of the sector in the developing policy framework for agriculture and environment
  • Improving fairness in the supply chain and the impact of the new policy landscape following EU exit - food pricing, setting standards, and managing compliance and enforcement
  • Priorities for the Groceries Code - regulation, responsiveness and fairness as the sector moves forward

Key areas for discussion:

Learning from the impact of COVID-19:

  • consumer demand - the effect of stockpiling on the rest of the supply chain, consumer trust in food supply, and changes to consumer purchasing through the pandemic
  • building future resilience - latest thinking on managing both efficiency and responsiveness to major shocks, and the outlook for just in time supply chains
  • policy coordination - assessing cross-government action so far to support the food supply chain, and ways that policy and governance can take a more joined-up approach going forward
  • food security - what has the pandemic taught the sector about vulnerability in the global food supply chain
  • workforce - balancing safety with productivity, overcoming social distancing challenges, and addressing workforce shortages

Trading relationships - assessing the impact of the changing trading relationship with the EU, alongside new trading partnerships and the opportunities and challenges they present for the food supply chain:

  • bureaucracy challenges - the early experience of exporting to the EU, and the impact on costs, scheduling, and workforce capacity, as well as the outlook for the future
  • pressures at ports - the early stages of transition, and managing flow when the system gets more developed, and looking at how it can cope with any problems that arise
  • reducing disruption - including the position of the Northern Ireland food supply, as well as discussion more widely on how to make the new system work for the just-in-time food supply chain
  • animal exports - assessing the impact of the end of the health certificate grace period, how prepared the supply chain is to comply, and mitigating potential challenges
  • support through transitional changes - where in the sector is help most needed and what forms should it take, drawing on the example of the £23m fund announced for seafood exporters

Fairness in the supply chain:

  • the Agriculture Act - establishing how its provisions can promote fairness in the supply chain, as the Secretary of State is given powers to make regulations for the purchasers of agricultural products in different sectors, with delegates considering:
    • how this works in practice, the sectors that would benefit most from the Secretary of State’s intervention, and how this regulation will be enforced
    • setting comprehensive regulatory standards incorporating the flexibility required for individual circumstances, in the context of development of a new Code of Conduct for the dairy sector
  • supply chain fairness mechanisms - looking at determining the value of the product at the farm gate, and deciding what the right price is for food and what consumers are prepared to pay
  • priorities for the new Groceries Code Adjudicator:
    • taking forward outcomes of the Statutory Review - which found that despite good progress there needed to be efforts to encourage suppliers to come forward with issues
    • opportunities for driving forward progress - lessons from the pandemic, and building relationships and the adaptability and resilience of the Code

Environmental sustainability - how the supply chain can be supported to address environmental challenges and align with the net-zero agenda for both policymakers and consumers, looking at:

  • priorities and key areas - strategies across segments of the food supply chain for how emissions and waste can be reduced across the system
  • policy - the role of new agriculture and environmental legislation in developing a farming system that benefits the environment
  • change at time of unparalleled pressure - when the food supply chain is under strain and adapting to both the pandemic and EU exit

A scan of relevant developments:

  • the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - with provisions for the exporting of food and drink products
  • Government Is Considering New Delays To EU Import Checks - PoliticsHome reporting that the Government is looking at a range of options to avoid disruption to the food chain, including delaying import checks to prepare for hospitality reopening amid concerns about food supply issues
  • appointment of Chris Tyas as the new Director of Food Supply at the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs following disruption at the start of the pandemic
  • Agriculture Act 2020:
    • with powers for the Secretary of State to impose regulations on business purchasers of agricultural products to promote fairness in the food supply chain
    • setting out a new payment system that rewards farmers for public goods
  • Groceries Code Adjudicator:
    • the statutory review finding the approach of the GCA to have been positive with progress made but with more work needed to make more suppliers feel confident in coming forward with issues
    • Mark White appointed as new Groceries Code Adjudicator - we are delighted that Mr White is a keynote speaker at this conference
  • COVID-19 and food supply - an inquiry by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee, and the subsequent Government response on the key actions to mitigate disruption
  • Companies urged to sign up to mass COVID testing to ‘keep food supplies running’ - food and drink companies included in the mass testing programme
  • New Code of Conduct to ensure a fairer dairy supply chain - announced by Defra, with questions over how to make sure it is flexible to individual circumstances
  • New financial support for the UK’s fishing businesses that export to the EU - in response to losses resulting from the transition from EU exit and the ongoing effects of the pandemic
  • the Seasonal Workers Pilot running for an additional year, plans to take forward the Pick for Britain campaign to improve domestic recruitment, and a review into how automation can be utilised more

Policy officials attending:

Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and officials from Defra; DAERA, NI; the Department for International Trade; Food Standards Scotland; the National Food Crime Unit; and the Welsh Government. Also due to attend are representatives from the Red Bull; Strong & Herd and TUCO.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, together with representatives of the agriculture and food and drink industry - including associations, manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers - local government officials, ports and logistics, lawyers, environmental groups, academics, international attendees, charities and consumer groups, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Richard Ballantyne

Chief Executive, British Ports Association

Mark White

Groceries Code Adjudicator

Keynote Speakers

Chris Tyas

Chair, GS1 UK and Director of Food Supplies, Defra

Phil Bicknell

Market Intelligence Director, AHDB

Richard Ballantyne

Chief Executive, British Ports Association

Mark White

Groceries Code Adjudicator


Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

former Leader, Green Party of England and Wales


Sue Davies

Head of Consumer Protection and Food Policy, Which?

Professor Bob Doherty

Professor of Marketing and Chair in Agrifood, Management School, University of York

Jessica Burt

Food and Beverage Lawyer, Mills & Reeve

Professor Michael Bourlakis

Director, Centre of Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management and Director of Research, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University

David Camp

Chief Executive, Association of Labour Providers

Katrina Walsh

Policy Manager, International Meat Trade Association

James Elliott

Senior Policy Adviser, Green Alliance

Vicki Hird

Head of Sustainable Farming Campaign, Sustain

Jack Ward

Chief Executive Officer, British Growers Association

Professor Tony Heron

Professor of International Political Economy, University of York

Aodhán Connolly

Director, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium

Dr Liz Goodwin

Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss And Waste, World Resources Institute