27 May 2020, 08:26 AM
  • Research could help inform changes for a fairer and more efficient future
Study to assess COVID-19’s impact on UK food supply chain

The coronavirus has no doubt brought about changes in the food sector, but a new study is set to look specifically at how the pandemic has affected the UK’s food supply chain.

Conducted by the University of Exeter with a research team from the Centre for Rural Policy Research, the study will explore five main food sectors in England: dairy, fish, flour, fruit and vegetables, and meat. Experts from these sectors as well as farming industry and policy experts will investigate how the crisis has impacted the journey from farm to plate, and the disruption the virus has caused to key players in the industry, including farmers, distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

To help with the study, representatives from industry bodies will share their experiences, whilst further studies and interviews will demonstrate how supply chains have changed, and what is preventing changes from being made.

The aim is for the findings to be disseminated as quickly as possible, allowing the information gathered to inform Government policy-making. But it will also help key players to restructure quickly by shedding light on changes that could make the UK’s food supply chain more efficient and fairer for different types of producers.

“Efficient and well-functioning supply chains are often hidden to consumers, but they are essential to making sure we can purchase the food we need,” research team member Professor Michael Winter said. “It is vital in the coming months that the nation’s food supplies are secure and resilient.

“To achieve resilience, we need to know how the supply chain is adapting, and critically, what steps might be required to ensure food continues to reach shops and that there is fairness for food workers and consumers. We will hear from those in the middle of making these crucial decisions, not just retailers.”

To find out how you can get involved in the study, email Michael Winter on D.M.Winter@exeter.ac.uk