To think about change, we have to change the way we think

It is timely that I should be attending an event looking into food, environmental sustainability, and public health this week. Coincidentally I have spent the past few weeks perplexed as to how I join the dots between climate resilience, innovation, growing demand for poultry meat and ambitions for a sustainable food system, mainly because I cannot shake the feeling that our national food (in)security continues to be cast to the miserable peripheries of the Government’s climate agenda.

No doubt conversations on how food is produced, distributed, and regulated will remain top of the agenda in 2023 given the challenges we’re up against, including a cost-of-living-crisis, but what does it mean for the fabric of the UK poultry industry, and the sustainability our food systems more broadly, that food security and climate change objectives lack necessary coherence?

BPC member businesses, whilst carving the path for low impact meat production, are adapting to a changing climate because its prevalence exacerbates the UK’s existing hunger problem. Climate change directly affects our food and nutrition security, undermining our efforts to promote an affordable and nutritious diet. Then food insecurity undermines efforts to be climate resilient, from production right to the coping strategies of our most vulnerable, and so we see a cycle begin.

Should Government want to think about change to prioritise the sustainability of our food system, then they have to change the way they think. Sustainability is only any good if what we are sustaining is inherently good for all people, and with nearly 10 million people unable to access a regular meal every day by the end of 2022, we see a food system that is failing to provide all people with a healthy, safe, affordable diet. A sustainable food system must be underpinned by nutrition to get to a place where we can tackle the social inequalities that define climate change.

There’s no doubt I will be walking into that room later this week with more questions than answers, but I’m optimistic all the same. UK poultry meat is best positioned to leverage its influence as a lower impact industry producing half the meat the nation eats to seize opportunities in this space. We see the good of people and the good of the planet as reciprocal: where there is room for Government intervention to mitigate hunger and support food security more directly, there is also a need for measures that promote agricultural and rural development to improve the availability, access and consumption of nutritious poultry meat by ensuring a healthy environment.


Article first published in Poultry Business Magazine.