The day Britain’s food ran out

image001British farming has had a turbulent year but recent events have also highlighted the importance knowing where your food comes from. This has resulted in unprecedented backing from consumers. Now the NFU is urging the public to help turn around a decline in self-sufficiency that means the UK produces just 62 per cent of its own food.

The NFU state that our current self-sufficiency rate means that today, August 14, is the day when British food supplies would run out if all the food produced in Britain in a year was stored and eaten from January 1. This means that, had everyone in the country replicated our project to buy British we would today be in a position where we would be struggling to find our next meal.

The NFU is determined to reverse this trend. Evidence demonstrates that the will is there. A One Poll survey has revealed that 78 per cent of consumers thought supermarkets should stock more British food and 42 per cent said they were more likely to buy more traceable food produced on British farms. And farmers are ready to rise to the challenge to produce more food sustainably.

NFU President Peter Kendall said the decline in self-sufficiency in many sectors should be a warning signal that something is wrong.

“To think that today’s date would signal the time when our domestic food supply runs out is frankly alarming”, said Mr Kendall. “It says to me that we must act.

“As an industry we have had a challenging decade but the realisation has dawned that as a nation we can’t simply go around the world chasing the cheapest deal for our food.

“So, instead we need to look closer to home. Right across the board farmers have a fantastic natural capacity to produce more British food, given the right market signals and the confidence to invest. We have the right technologies to produce more from less with precision farming helping to target fertiliser and crop protection products within centimetres. Laser technology can even pinpoint an individual weed, improving accuracy and efficiency. Crops grown under cover help to lengthen the season for our British fruits. But there is more to do to empower our farmers to enable them to make the most of our natural resources and feed our growing nation.

“I want to know our government is really getting to grips with its food vision and ensuring that sustainable, productive farming is across all government departments. Let’s create an environment which really means farming businesses can invest. Let’s address market failure and iron-out volatility to enable the entire food chain to grow supply.

“We have all learned the lessons of long, complex supply chains and retailers are all telling me that they want to work with British farmers to ensure their shelves are stocked with more British produce. We currently import around £37.6bn of food and drink. We are a trading nation but at a time of economic uncertainty a strong food producing industry is essential.

“Consumers are increasingly showing their support for British farming and are our best ally. I would ask to them to continue showing their support by demanding of their local supermarket, restaurant, or MP – what are you doing to Back British Farming?



  1. Need drives demand. Supermarkets need to be backing the NFU with support and sponsorship from the government. We are indeed running out of resources in the world. Potentially to catastrophic effect.

  2. There is a very simple message here for us all, consumers, retailers, anyone with an interest in the health of the British economy. Increase our percentage production by 10% and we will not only reduce imports by £10bn but that £10bn will then be pumped into British production. Replicate this to manufacturing and other goods and services and we could be on the road to a very healthy future. Result, still one of the worlds great trading nations but with balanced books!

  3. felicity says

    Which creates a better effect. Buying local from a supermarket or buying from a local farm shop?

  4. I am sick of trying to find a joint of British bacon in our supermarkets. I am lucky if I can find one buried under those from Denmark and Holland.

    Obviously the supermarkets find that they can import more cheaply than buy British. The key question is: Are we less efficient as farmers or do Denmark and Holland receive more CAP subsidies? The problem needs addressing either way.

  5. My understanding is that British animal welfare standards are higher, which no doubt results in higher prices.

  6. The nearer the food is produced the better it is, the longer it travels the worse it gets.We buy locally produced fruit, veg and dairy, it is really fresh, tastes great, and the money stays local. Winner all round! Supermarkets work for the shareholders who could be anywhere in the world.

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