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Rethinking food in Wales

27 October 2017

Image of Professor Roberta Sonnino giving evidence at the Senedd
Professor Roberta Sonnino giving evidence at the Senedd

Food security and sustainability expert addresses inquiry into rethinking food strategies in Wales.

Professor Roberta Sonnino, from Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning, gave evidence before the National Assembly for Wales’ Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee on Thursday 26 October 2017.

Held as part of the Rethinking Food in Wales inquiry, the session was focussed on public sector procurement policy and the role policymakers can play in ensuring Wales has:

  • healthy locally produced, affordable and accessible food;
  • an innovative food industry sustaining high-quality jobs;
  • and sustainably produced food with high environmental and animal welfare standards.

The session also addressed the challenges and opportunities facing procurement specialists in light of the uncertainties posed by Brexit.

Professor Sonnino is an internationally recognised authority in food geographies and an advisor to the European Commission, the Scottish Government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. Her research expertise includes local food systems, public food procurement, urban food governance and food security.

Addressing the Committee, which is chaired by Mike Hedges AM, Professor Sonnino was keen to underscore the importance of public procurement processes in the context of food security.

“I believe that public procurement is the most powerful tool that governments have at their disposal to fashion sustainable food economies. It is a golden opportunity to decide what kind of food markets we want to create – for whom, and how.”

Professor Sonnino added: “We need to recognise that embracing a creative and enabling food policy is an investment in future human and environmental health."

"While I have encountered many examples of good practice in Wales, it is imperative to put in place a national food policy which articulates a coherent vision, and establishes a robust framework to address issues of food insecurity and food poverty.”

The discussion during the evidence session was far-reaching with Committee members’ questions touching on areas including: creating sustainable food systems and developing local supply chains; the impact of EU procurement legislation on local producers; Welsh Government leadership on public sector food procurement; and international examples of approaches to food procurement.

The School of Geography has an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Food security, sustainability, and policy is a key research theme and the School offers a Master’s degree in Food Politics and Sustainability (MSc).

The evidence session is available to watch online at

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