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This conference focused on tackling the current challenges for the UK food supply chain - looking at priorities for policy, what stakeholders need, and the action required to address key issues.
Taking place following the publication of the Government Food Strategy, delegates discussed the ambitions within the strategy around skills and innovative food production, as well as whether the strategy goes far enough to address key challenges in the current context and longer-term.
The agenda also looked at building long-term resilience for agriculture, the food and drink systems - including trade priorities, freight and logistics, the future of UK borders, and opportunities from new technology and innovation.
It was an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss with policymakers what could be done to address factors leading to disruption affecting the supply chain and the latest policy measures at the time. Areas of focus included:
- staffing and logistics
- shortages, costs and other factors affecting equipment, energy and materials
- the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, Brexit and COVID recovery
Delegates examined the impact of the Government’s measures to support the sector and what more should be done, looking at:
- the delay of import controls
- support announced on CO2, and energy provision and fertiliser prices
- the Future of Freight plan
- the EFRA Committee report on Labour shortages in the food and farming sector, the extension of the Seasonal Worker Visa Route and the workforce review announced in the Government Food Strategy
- wider measures included in the Government Food Strategy
Further sessions considered key issues and opportunities for strengthening the long-term resilience of the food supply chain, with discussion on the future shape of the UK borders system in the context of the Government’s 2025 UK Border Strategy, as well as the innovation in infrastructure - and technology such as blockchain - that will be needed to support it.
Discussion also looked at key issues for trade, strategies for international and cross-sector collaboration, environmental sustainability, quality and standards, and consumer protection.
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Chris Tyas, Chair, GS1 UK; and Michael Bourlakis, Director of Research, Cranfield School of Management.
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the CCC; DAERA, NI; Department for the Economy, NI; the DIT; Food Standards Scotland; the Veterinary Policy Research Foundation; and the Scottish Government.