British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will host the 2023 Food Summit tomorrow within the walls of Number 10, Downing Street. Foodservice Footprint

Rishi Sunak has been urged by ministers of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to take immediate action in increasing the prices of immigration and food in an attempt to solve the crisis of fluctuating food production in the UK. This is expected to be discussed in detail with industry experts at a Downing Street Food Summit which Sunak will be hosting, respectively.

The British Prime Minister will be joined by DEFRA officials, alongside farmers and food industry leaders to cover issues revolving around inflation, the agricultural sector as a whole, sustainable farming practices and British food security.

Believing that the upcoming summit could be a good opportunity to initiate changes, the heads of the food industry have been pushing for the British government to turn their focus towards more sustainable food production, as this could prevent a potential climate disaster.

Due to the growing number of British farmers leaving the business over the current, cheap prices of the food they grow, ministers are strongly suggesting an increase in Visas for foreign agricultural workers and food pickers that travel to Britain and provide seasonal labour for food production.

Agreeing that immigration prices must increase, founder of the Riverford Organic vegetable company, Guy Singh-Watson, commented: "I really don't like the dependence on foreign workers who are inevitably treated badly. But in reality, to get the fruit and vegetables picked over the next few years, we do need more people coming from abroad to save the industry we have left."

Rob Percival, head of food policy at the Soil Association, has commented on the summit, saying: "the clock is ticking on the climate and nature crisis, and many farmers are struggling in the face of rising costs. Urgent action is needed to join the dots. We urge participants of the summit to be bold in their thinking."

"The solutions are clear," Rob says. "The government should commit to delivering joined-up policy that helps our farmers and growers, to increase investment in sustainable farming and regenerative forestry, and more trees on farms through agroforestry".

NFU President Minette Batters
NFU President Minette Batters calls for the British government to maintain the country's food self-sufficiency levels and make supply chains fairer under the Agricultural Act. Bloomburg/Bloomburg via Getty Images

Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales (NFU), has welcomed the Food Summit, however she vehemently stresses that the summit must involve more than just mere discussion. She states: "the past eighteen months have been a stark reminder of how vulnerable the nation's food security is. It has been a wakeup call for the importance of a secure domestic supply of food, and it is vital that the summit delivers actions, not just words.

She continued: "a start would be a serious commitment from government to maintaining Britain's food production self-sufficiency level at 60 per cent, with a statutory duty to report on domestic food levels and utilise powers under the Agriculture Act to make supply chains fairer."

The NFU president also believes that the Food Summit should be cemented as an annual event with the initiative to boost British food production.

Excessive waste has been identified by food experts as a major problem for the food industry, with up to 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions being caused by the global food network. The average British household disposes of around 28 kg of food wastage every month, with the vast majority of the food deemed as still edible. These colossal, frequent amounts of food wastage will gradually lead to the wastage of natural resources such as land and water, signalling an environmental disaster looming on the horizon.

Vicki Hird, the Head of Sustainable Farming Campaign at Sustain, has also commented on the summit, but has expressed scepticism towards the event. She stated to the Farmer's Weekly: "It is extraordinary that just weeks out from this summit, the government has binned its own planned horticulture strategy, one of the very few solid pledges contained in its food strategy plan."

"If the only result of this supposed 'summit' is a photo of Rishi Sunak meeting the head of the NFU, then it will be a clear sign that the government has no plan."