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Our Food Future: Are we losing touch with our food and each other? (2016-05-11)


People in the UK worry that convenience eating could cause them to lose a connection with the food they eat, suggests research we have published today.

Participants in the study were concerned that the growing trends of convenience foods, online grocery shopping, and 'eating on the go' could decrease the social and cultural importance of sharing meals. They worry about a loss of connection with where our food comes from, and with each other, as we cook and eat together less as families and communities.

This is one of a number of findings from a public dialogue commissioned by the FSA to explore 'Our Food Future', a study to help understand how changes to the food system might impact on consumers in the UK. It aims to bring the consumer voice into the debate about the future of the food system and collect important evidence to inform future policy, working in partnership with other policy makers, industry, and retailers.

A summit is being held as part of Our Food Future, bringing together 200 leading experts to discuss what the impact of changes to the global food system could be and what we all can do to get the best outcome for people in the UK. The event is being broadcast live.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, said: 'The food supply chain is increasingly complex and already under pressure from a growing world population. It's the FSA's role to understand how this affects the interests of consumers and engage with people about how the food system should be shaped for the future.

'We've said in our strategy that we are committed to open policy making and we are keen to invite input from everyone with a stake in the food system, including from those who buy and eat food. We want to identify and solve problems to deliver the best food future for us all. Our policies in this area, and those of others, are still being shaped and Our Food Future will have a crucial input into that.'

Other key findings from the research show that increased clarity on food labels has been widely welcomed by consumers, with many hoping the food industry will provide more information on a wider range of food issues, that consumers are concerned that access to healthy and nutritious food could become a luxury as pricing prompts people to buy cheaper, processed food and that participants hope that Government and regulators will play a more visible role in the future of food, to ensure that their interests are protected in a more complex world.

The research was commissioned by the FSA, Food Standards Scotland, and Sciencewise and carried out by social research agency TNS BMRB. It comprised several parts - an online quantitative survey of 1,383 UK participants, an online qualitative forum with 22 participants, and a deliberative public dialogue in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, with each participant engaging in two workshops in their nearest location. Participants considered several future scenarios and expressed their hopes, fears and aspirations for the future of food.

For more information
Our Food Future