What is food security?
When we refer to food security waht we are measuring is the ability of people gloablly to access to safe and nutritional food and accecss is determined by many factors including the availability and affordability of food. The UN Committee on World Food Security defines the concept as follows:
“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
The pressures on the cost of wheat, war and climate change are driving up bread prices in the UK
The food insecurity crisis is occurring amid rising global food prices. The FAO’s food price index, which measures monthly changes in the international prices of cereals, vegetable oils, dairy products, meat, and sugar, had an average score of 125.7 in 2021, the highest since 2011. Although the index declined for four consecutive months by July 2022, it was still 16.4 points higher than the same time the previous year.
Wheat price increases caused by the Russian blockade of Ukraine have been identified as a contributing factor to food price inflation. More information on the war in Ukraine’s impact on global food prices can be found in the House of Lords Library briefing ‘Impact of Ukrainian port blockade on food supply to developing countries’ (14 July 2022). Additionally, more information on the rising cost of agricultural fertilizers and feed is provided in the House of Lords Library briefing ‘Rising cost of agricultural fertiliser and feed: Causes, impacts and government policy’ (22 June 2022).
In August 2022, the Met Office reported updated projections for changes to the UK climate, noting an increased likelihood of warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers throughout the century. It also indicated that the UK would face more frequent and intense weather extremes. During the summer of 2022, the UK experienced record high temperatures. In July 2022, the Met Office recorded temperatures above 40°C for the first time, surpassing the previous record of 38.7°C.
In August 2022, the Environment Agency declared droughts in parts of South West, Southern and Central England, and the East of England. Due to the dry conditions, farmers anticipated lower food yields that year. In response, the Rural Payments Agency issued guidance in July 2022, allowing for a temporary relaxation of land use requirements. This enabled farmers to cut or graze areas of land otherwise set aside as part of their existing agri-environment scheme agreements.
August 2022 also brought heavy rainfall and flooding in some areas of England. The Environment Agency explained that the rainwater could not drain quickly because the ground had been hardened by earlier dry conditions. The heavy rains led to storm sewage overflows, with untreated sewage being released into UK rivers and along the UK coast. More information on storm sewage overflows is available in the House of Lords Library briefing ‘Sewage pollution in England’s waters’ (30 June 2022).
When it comes to Food security there are some serious concernes about the whole UK food system
In 2020, the House of Lords Committee on Food, Poverty, Health, and the Environment published a report titled ‘Hungry for change: Fixing the failures in food’. This comprehensive report analyzed the UK food system, encompassing production, manufacturing, retail, and consumption. The findings revealed that individuals with limited resources struggled to access affordable, nutritious food, and that food industries, manufacturers, retailers, and the food service sector perpetuated the demand for less healthy, highly processed products. As a result, the report identified increased prevalence of diet-related obesity and non-communicable diseases, as well as barriers to environmentally sustainable farming practices in the UK. The committee concluded that the UK’s food system was failing, leaving a significant portion of the population unable to access necessary food. More information on the report and the government’s response can be found in the House of Lords Library briefing ‘Hungry for change: Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment Committee report’ (4 June 2021).
Baroness Boycott, who tabled the debate held in the House of Lords on 8 September 2022, is a trustee of the Food Foundation, a UK think tank focused on the food system. In February 2022, the Food Foundation reported that 8.8% of UK households experienced food insecurity in the previous month, an increase from 7.3% in July 2021. One indicator of food security is the number of individuals utilizing food banks in the UK. The Trussell Trust reported that over 2.1 million food parcels were distributed by food banks in 2021–22, lower than the 2.5 million distributed during the pandemic in 2020–21, but 14% higher than in 2019–20. The Trussell Trust also found that 17% of Universal Credit recipients have visited a food bank at least once since December 2021, based on an online poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of the trust.
The Food Foundation has warned that food insecurity will worsen in 2022 due to rising food prices in the UK. In June 2022, the British Retail Consortium cautioned that UK households were experiencing the highest inflation rate since the 1980s. The consumer prices index (CPI) increased by 10.1% in the 12 months leading up to July 2022, with food price inflation being the primary driver of the overall increase. The inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages climbed to 12.7% during the same period. The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee projected that CPI inflation could surpass 13% in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Food Security and Bread
All reasonable care is taken when writing about health aspects of bread, but the information it contains is not intended to take the place of treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. You must seek professional advice if you are in any doubt about any medical condition. Any application of the ideas and information contained on this website is at the reader's sole discretion and risk.