Dimbleby launches vision for National Food Strategy

Henry Dimbleby – co-founder of restaurant chain Leon and of the Sustainable Restaurant Association – has been appointed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove to lead the first major review of the UK food system in nearly 75 years.

He will investigate the entire food system, from field to fork, and consider what changes are needed to ensure that it:

  • Delivers safe, healthy, affordable food, regardless of where people live or how much they earn;
  • Is robust in the face of future shocks
  • Restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation;
  • Is built upon a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector;
  • Is a thriving contributor to our urban and rural economies, delivering well paid jobs and supporting innovative producers and manufacturers.
  • Does all of this in an efficient and cost-effective way.

His recommendations will result in a trailblazing new National Food Strategy, set to be published in 2020.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

 “Leaving the EU is a great opportunity for British farmers and food producers. But with an expanding population, the urgent threat of climate change and rising levels of diet-related disease, we face many challenges too.

“That is why the time is right for us to look afresh at our food system to ensure everyone has access to high-quality British food and our environment is protected for future generations.

“I am delighted that Henry Dimbleby will be leading this once-in-a-generation opportunity to cultivate a stronger food system for the future.”

Henry Dimbleby said:

 “No part of our economy matters more than food. It is vital to life and shapes our sense of identity.

“But there are urgent challenges with which we must grapple. Populations are growing, diet-related conditions are harming the lives of millions, and climate change is altering what our land will yield.

“From farmers in the field to chefs in the kitchen, over the next year I’ll be speaking with people from across the food chain to address these challenges and ensure everyone has a say in shaping the future.”

NFU President Minette Batters said:

 “I am very pleased to see that the Government is taking food production seriously and putting plans in place for a national food strategy – this review is long overdue.

“It is crucial that this strategy delivers for everyone – from food producers to families across the country, regardless of their income. Safe, traceable, affordable food that is produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection is a right for all and British farmers should be the number one supplier of this.

“The NFU has done some early work with Henry Dimbleby on what a food strategy can look like and I am delighted that he has included much of this in his framework. We are looking forward to working with his review to deliver a food system that is fair for all.”

Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation, said:

“Over the last 70 years we have begun to take for granted that there will be food on our table, yet in truth our food and drink industry is a strategic national asset to be protected. It is central to the economic success and cultural fabric of our country and the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. Its contribution to our future growth, prosperity and sustainability is vital. 

“So we applaud Michael Gove’s bold commitment to create a national Food Strategy for England, and embed an holistic approach to policymaking across food and drink. We look forward to working with Henry Dimbleby and his team across the UK Government on these important themes, building on the proposals put forward in our recent ‘Plan for Success’.”

 Iain Ferguson, Industry Co-Chair of the Food and Drink Sector Council, said:

“The future success of the UK food and farming industry is vital for the economy and the health of the nation. I welcome this review by Henry Dimbleby, and as a Sector Council we look forward to working with Henry and the DEFRA team and playing our part in ensuring the UK has a sustainable, innovative and resilient food system for generations to come.”

 Professor Judy Buttriss, Director General, British Nutrition Foundation said:

“This important initiative provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to look at food, nutrition and the environment in the round, through multiple lenses.

“Good nutrition is as much about eating more of some things as it is about cutting back on others. The integrated message of variety, balance and nutrient density – making every calorie count – needs to be reflected in food production right through to what we teach children in school.”

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of the Sustain food and farming alliance, and advisor to the Sustainable Food Cities network, said:

“A National Food Strategy could play a pivotal role in delivering sustainably produced and healthy food for everyone, as well as better livelihoods in food production. It could also support the transition to environmentally friendly farming and fishing that are now imperative.

“We are excited about the ideas, collaboration and optimism that the Food Strategy has already started to generate and look forward to taking part.”

 A formal call for evidence will be held shortly to seek views from all those who have a vested interest in the future of our food.

The National Food Strategy will build on the Government’s flagship Agriculture Bill and Fisheries Bill currently before Parliament, alongside the Industrial Strategy, the Childhood Obesity Strategy and the upcoming Environment Bill which will address the greatest environmental challenges of our age.


 Notes to editors

 The full terms of reference for the review are on GOV.UK 

  • For more information and to get involved with the strategy, please visit www.nationalfoodstrategy.org
  • Henry Dimbleby is co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain. He is also co-founder and Director of The Sustainable Restaurant Association and of London Union, which runs some of London’s most successful street food markets. He co-authored The School Food Plan (2013), which set out actions to transform what children eat in schools and how they learn about food. He recently co-founded the charity Chefs In Schools.
  • He was appointed lead non-executive board member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in March 2018.
  • Henry Dimbleby will lead the food review, and an advisory group selected from across the food system will support him.
  • The last major reform of food policy was nearly 75 years ago with the 1947 Agriculture Act, which had an emphasis on farming to both improve productivity and produce more food domestically.
    • Food safety regulations in the UK were first consolidated in the 1984 Food Act, and later the 1990 Food Safety Act gave us the current framework for ensuring food safety and consumer protection.
    • For more information, contact the Defra press office on 0330 041 6560, or 0345 051 8486 out of hours