Christmas Food For Thought!
“While people have food everything matters, when people don’t have food nothing else matters”.
In the final week before Christmas last year the UK’s festive food spend was £4.2 billion, with Friday 22nd December 17 reported to be the UK’s highest-spending day ever. The expectations of our 65 million population to have food on demand is a logistical challenge to which the whole supply chain has evolved, and delivers on this monumental task, keeping everyone fed today, and tomorrow, whatever your view on what you actually eat might be!
It’s hard to believe that following World War 2, 70% of our home market household incomes were spent on food, putting this in perspective today we now spend around 9%, with food currently plentiful for most!
However, history can have a habit of repeating itself, and past mistakes are ours to avoid! Before the outbreak of WW2 in September 1939, Britain imported 70% of all its food, 17% of meat, 25% of butter and 50% of cheese. Cheese travelled by ship from New Zealand, which had abundant production at that time! Following the outbreak of war our imports all but ceased, people acquired food using the ration books issued by decision makers as food became scarce.
Farmers and people across the land were mobilised by the Ministry of Food to produce more food to lift our low food self-sufficiency rate from 30%, ration books continued until 1954 even though the war ended in 1945. However, 30% self-sufficiency had left the nation very vulnerable at this time. A situation which, since that time generations here thankfully have not needed to consider, yet! Certainly not while food is plentiful in the UK and European Union. Many parts of the World have complex uncertainties, with more people and diversity of opinions extending within leaderships. Following which messages are sometimes misleading and confusing within the reported rhetoric, on what the future might hold!!
However, the seeming relentless drive to keep food lower on our agenda than it deserves could well over time see erosion of our own levels of self sufficiencies levels again, from the 60% we have achieved today in this country. The supply chain here can see benefits from fair trading arrangements globally, although most would agree on drawing a line under any compromises to standards and welfare while people have choices!
Conclusively, history has told us we shouldn’t lose touch with some consideration that self-sufficiency levels are maintained or bettered, achieved by valuing the primary producers right through to the consumer, as it has been proven in the past, mankind and nature can throw in unexpected challenges we need to consider. Let’s not push today’s population towards a risk of history repeating itself, as most today would need convincing hunger would be received with the same level of tolerance as in the past!
Simon Davies December 2018