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Farming Union calls for new food labelling initiative to drive food security and self-sufficiency

By David Porter

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NFU Scotland is looking to UK and Scottish Governments for food labelling changes to underpin the nation’s food security, self-sufficiency and bolster the home production of high-quality food.

Martin Kennedy - President of NFU Scotland.
Martin Kennedy - President of NFU Scotland.

Speaking at AgriScot, the biggest Winter agricultural event in Scotland, taking place at Ingliston outside Edinburgh on Wednesday, NFU Scotland’s President Martin Kennedy said a new labelling initiative backed by Governments, retailers, food processors, the food service sector, catering and consumers would properly recognise the high production standards here and make it easier for all parts of the food chain to support domestic production.

The Union has started discussions with politicians and other stakeholders around a label that could clearly identify food products where more than 50 per cent of ingredients had been sourced from outside the UK. Greater transparency on where food has been sourced from would allow consumers to make more informed choices.

Speaking to a packed industry seminar, attended by more than 300 visitors to the event, Mr Kennedy said: “As an industry we are extremely proud of what we produce and how we produce it, but sadly when it comes to generating a return, it doesn’t stack up.

“A labelling initiative could allow us to better inform our consumers about the origin of all the food and drink they are purchasing and allow them to make informed decisions. I firmly believe that this is where we could see Governments and industry working together like never before.

“I believe loyalty to domestic production from all parts of the food chain can be supported by legislative change to labelling and that would enhance our ability to keep producing food profitably and locally.

“It is a huge frustration to farmers and crofters when we regularly see our own produce, which has been raised and grown to some of the highest standards, being undermined by imports that often fail to meet or match our standards of production.

“Here in Scotland, we have a fantastic opportunity to address this through the Good Food Nation Act, expected early next year, whereby undisputed transparency of where our food comes from will allow our consumers to make a real informed choice. Our consumers showed real loyalty to our products throughout the recent pandemic, and we must build on that momentum.

“However, the success of any labelling initiative would be dependent on it being applied across the UK. This would be a real game changer in terms of supporting our own food producers.

“At Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘Farm to Fork’ summit in Downing Street earlier this year, which I attended, he gave a clear commitment to supporting domestic production, self-sufficiency and addressing our record on food security. More transparent labelling presents an opportunity to be part of that commitment.

“Clearly identifying where food has been sourced from will also highlight how robust and genuine our retailer and food service sector promises on supporting local produce really are.”

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