The future for food in Wales

21 July 2016

Sheep in a field

There is an urgent need to develop a fresh vision and strategy for the food system in Wales, according to two senior Cardiff University Professors.

Professor Terry Marsden of the Sustainable Places Research Institute and Professor Kevin Morgan of the School of Geography and Planning worked alongside the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) to examine the Welsh Government’s current food policy and related action plans.

Announced in 2010, the food strategy set out to provide a common framework for the Welsh food sector.

However, the researchers found weaknesses and blockages in the governance of food policy in Wales, including a lack of engagement with stakeholders, little focus on food poverty, and a narrowing of the remit of the food strategy.

This, coupled with a greater understanding of the interconnected vulnerabilities which underpin sustainable food systems, mean that a revitalised and integrated food policy is more pressing than ever before, argue the authors.

Recommendations the authors make in their report include:

  • Placing sustainable diets at the heart of food and nutritional policy through adopting successful public health interventions such as Food for Life and bolstering public sector food procurement and catering provision
  • Providing support for farmers to produce less intensive, more sustainable, and higher food quality products through more diversified sets of supply chains
  • Increasing investment in ‘the missing middle’ infrastructure of the food supply chains
  • Progressing research, development and extension in sustainable production and consumption systems
  • Expanding horticulture

The authors say: “In recent years there has been growing recognition of the relevance of food policy to wider policy goals and to well-being. There has, for example, been increasing concern about food poverty, poor diet and the reduction in the number of independent farm businesses.

“This makes a comprehensive and holistic approach to food policy more important than ever and requires a clear vision backed by action to secure more healthy and sustainable diets for all and monitoring of progress in achieving this.”

The report, Food Policy as Public Policy: A Review of the Welsh Government’s Food Strategy and Action Plan, was commissioned by the former Minister for Natural Resources and the former Deputy Minister for Farming and Food.

The Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) was established in January 2014 to provide the Welsh Government with authoritative independent analysis and advice. The Institute is co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Welsh Government, and hosted by Cardiff University. It seeks to use evidence to improve policy and practice in Wales and beyond.