We should spare a thought or three to the matter of 'food security' - food security you may ask? Yes, not energy security, but Food security which is nothing new, in 1996, the World Food Summit defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. The World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledge that the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs as well as their food preferences. All very fine and day you may say, but, what does that have to do with us?
Well, a lot actually, especially as the UK produces 73% of ‘indigenous-type foods’, and is about 60% self-sufficient when exports and local consumption are set against production. UK consumers spend an average of £420 per household on food each year that they then throw away, or 4.1M tonnes of food nationally. Every day we bin 4.4 Million apples, 5.1 Million potatoes, 2.8 Million tomatoes and 1.6 Million bananas. 2009 Wrap data suggests £12 Billion pounds worth is binned every year in the UK, or around £680 for the average family when drinks and liquid food is included. In Wales as previously noted by Leanne Wood Plaid AM, South Wales Central, serious efforts are being made to cut waste.
We need to think about locally sourced food stuffs and to take a long hard look at the way the market for food in the UK operates. In the UK, we are when compared with 10 years ago, now importing nearly half our butter from abroad, cheese imports are also up, around 60 percent over the last ten years. We are importing those products that have added-value and are exporting the low-value milk products which are then ironically turned back into butter, yoghurt, etc and sold back to us.
This is madness; this is what happens in the Third World, where countries export their raw commodities cheaply and then have little choice but to buy back the manufactured products that are made from their own raw materials. Successive UK Governments both Conservative and New Labour have sat back and quietly allowed this to happen.
The rise in global food prices will have an impact on the cost of living and the prices we pay for our food. The cost of Global food prices quietly rose to a new high in December last year, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Its Food Price Index went above the previous record of 2008 that saw prices spark riots in several countries. Soaring sugar, cereal and oil prices had driven the rise, the report said.
The index (produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) measures monthly price changes for a food basket composed of dairy, meat and sugar, cereals and oilseeds, averaged 214.7 points last month, up from 206 points in November and also noted that prices had risen for six consecutive months.
At the end of the day, ever rising food prices (and ever rising transportation costs) will bring little benefit to our own or more distant food producers because they are being short changed by the Supermarkets (and some of their suppliers).