The food and drink manufacturing industry is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK, with an annual turnover of £95.4 billion. The industry employs about 400,000 people and this represents around 13% of the total manufacturing workforce in the UK. What’s more, the scale of the industry continues to grow. NCUB noted in the Leading Food 4.0 report that the food, drink and catering sector contributed over £103bn to the UK economy in 2012. The most recent statistics show how much this has grown – this figure has rocketed to £234bn in 2019.
The industry is a cornerstone of the UK economy, and it is being forced to adapt and innovate at pace as it contends with a growing population and global warming.
Scientists have predicted that within the next 30 years, the world population is expected to rise by 2.3 billion people. To put that into context, by 2050 the world’s food production will have to increase by nearly 50%. Securing food for everyone is a monumental challenge.
Our current food production has a significant impact on the environment, with agriculture accounting for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, significant deforestation, water shortages and pollution. Indeed, agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than the planet’s cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined. This is largely from methane released by cattle and rice farms, nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and carbon dioxide from the cutting down of rain forests to grow crops or raise animals.
What’s more, climate change will dramatically affect what we can eat and drink. Speciality crops such as avocados, coffee and wine grapes can only be grown in a very narrow climate range and yields are at risk if temperatures shift. It’s a double-edged sword.
Innovative solutions are necessary if we want to feed the world in a more sustainable way.
In this booklet, we take a look at ten collaborative projects UK universities and businesses have embarked upon as they have risen to this challenge. We look at projects that are making our food growing processes more bountiful, partnerships that are exploring new food sources and collaborations that are making the UK food system more sustainable and efficient.”
Read Food for the Future here.