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18.12.2009 Studies
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UK Food Security Assessment: Detailed Analysis

Defra, 2009


  • UK food security is assessed along 6 groups of indicators, with a discussion of past and likely future performance. Several indicators deal with global food security and are not UK-specific.


  • Overall, UK food security is found to be favorable.
  • Global food availability and resource sustainability: food production per capita and cereal yield growth rates are on a long-term upward trend; developing countries have enormous production potential (especially if the efficiency of water use could be improved); the slowing down of yield growth in the EU can be explained by decreasing prices and subsidies, and does not reflect technological or ecological limites; animal diseases kill far less than 1% of the world's animal population per year, and they are unlikely to become a major threat to food production; even at the 2008 peak, real food prices where well below the levels reached during the 70s.
  • UK availability: the UK is sourcing its food imports from many different countries and can rapidly switch sources of supply if the need arises; reliable trading relationships with the other EU countries provide an insurance; the EU area that could be used for agriculture has decreased by slightly less than 10% from 1975-2007, whereas yield growth has been much higher (about 50% for wheat); the UK could feed its own population, probably even with organic agriculture and easily with traditional agriculture.
  • The distribution of food supplies to the population (from the farm or the port of entry) is not threatened.


  • This is the right approach: a balance sheet against the myth of food insecurity. And it offers an interesting result: even the UK, with its notoriously low level of self-sufficiency, could feed itself. Why then should France worry?