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Policies & Issues

FOOD POLICY
The BRC supports the need for a comprehensive food policy, bringing together all the issues that affect food production and consumption in the UK. The way food is produced and consumed is key to a number of issues from obesity to climate change..

Retailers have been working with suppliers and consumers for a number of years to make the food chain more sustainable. They are reducing the environmental impact of their supply chains from farms to stores and using clear information and labelling to help consumers make healthier, more sustainable choices. We are sharing the progress we are making with Government to help inform their food policies and have participated in a number of their initiatives, most recently the Green Food Project.

You can view our progress in delivering a healthier, more sustainable diet in a number of our publications:

A Commitment to Health - Our nutrition documents demonstrate our ground making progress on reformulation, labelling and healthy options

A Better Retailing Climate - Our environment paper, A Better Retailing Climate, shows how food retailers are working throughout the chain to supply more sustainable food

Retail and Farming - Investing in our Futures (PDF) - Our investment in farming paper shows how retailers are working closely with groups of farmer suppliers to improve production

We recognise that we need to work with suppliers, consumers and Government to achieve a better supply chain but for its part Government can help us by adopting the following steps.

Firstly, it needs to be clear in what it is trying to achieve. By having a clear strategy it can define what it believes a sustainable chain is and set out a timetable to deliver it which will prioritise the key issues.

Secondly, it must ensure food policy is given sufficient importance across Government and that policy is co-ordinated between the various departments that have a responsibility for food issues. Co-ordinated campaigns and policy have the biggest impact as this allows retailers to maximise their resources in reinforcing key messages with consumers. Currently there are too many departments launching campaigns and initiatives at the same time which dilutes support from industry and potentially confuses consumers.

Thirdly, it must work closer with the supply chain on delivery of policy. We need to have a clear route into Government to give feedback on policy and how the market is functioning. Change will only be delivered if consumers understand the issues and are prepared to value that in the food they buy so producers can be rewarded for sustainable production.

Fourthly, we need to be realistic about what we can achieve in the UK. Key policy areas such as the Common Agricultural Policy, trade, environment legislation and labelling are all agreed in Brussels. If the Government truly wants to influence change it needs to ensure Europe shares and implements a co-ordinated food policy.

Finally, we need a Government that takes a strategic, long term approach to food policy. Many of the issues are complex and will take consumers time to understand and be reflected in the products they buy. Government needs to accept this may take time and should not panic if change is not as quick as they would hope. They should also not allow themselves to be distracted by seemingly important but actually trivial issues, we need commitment to a long term, evidence based policy.
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