Britain would run out of food by end of week if country relied solely on British food, study finds

National Farmers Union president Minette Batters.
Byline: Sonya Duncan.

National Farmers Union president Minette Batters. Byline: Sonya Duncan. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The union representing farming has revealed research which shows Britons would run out of food by the weekend if it was solely reliant on just British food.

Dubbed 'self-sufficiency day', the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has said without imports the country would not be able to get through to the end of the year without running out of food because it Britain heavily relies on imports.

The NFU have flagged up the research as an indicator of how reliant the country remains on imports, with the percentage of homegrown produce consumed in the UK dropping from 80% in 1980 to 64% in 2020.

According to the research, from City University's Centre for Food Policy, Britain now imports 93% of its fruit and 47% of vegetables.

It means by August 21 it would have ran out of food if it did not import food from elsewhere.


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The government has dismissed the possibility of food shortages after Brexit, but it has been warned that it needs to review food security in light of the global pandemic.


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It has been urged to look at more homegrown, seasonal products, and to look to European countries like France where 20% of food stocked by supermarkets is local produce.

Professor Tim Lang said: 'A country that has low self-sufficiency puts itself at risk of any geopolitics and we are in exactly that sort of uncertainty now. The world is facing extreme pressures from people, food, climate and landmass. Britain is still acting as though we have an empire. It doesn't and Britain is assuming others will feed us.'

Minette Batters, president of the NFU, added: 'Covid has stretched everything to the limit and we have to take a different line on food security and the amount of food that is produced here.

'It's the perfect storm of events. This self-sufficiency day sends a message to the government for the need to really prioritise food.'

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