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The industry paid its respects to Queen Elizabeth II yesterday, as hundreds of thousands visited her coffin in Westminster before she was laid to rest alongside her husband Prince Phillip.
As the nation’s monarch for 70 years, she has witnessed the food industry evolve, tackle important issues such as sustainability and adjust to the rise of e-commerce.
A champion of the countryside
The farming industry shared its sorrow at the news, reflecting on the late Queen’s love of the British countryside.
Thanking the Queen for being a steadfast champion of the rural way of life, Mark Tufnell, president of the Country Land Association (CLA), said, “It is with profound grief that we note the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, but it is also with sincere gratitude that we remember her tireless service to our nation and its rural community.”
Also acknowledging her support for farmers, National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters, announced, “Words cannot describe the deep sense of sadness that I and the rest of the farming community will feel at the news of the passing of Her Majesty the Queen.
“Her Majesty has been the embodiment of duty and public service, seeing the country through seven decades where we have seen a huge change in our nation and in our fields.
“The Queen’s deep connection to the countryside has been valued enormously by farmers and has left a remarkable legacy that will continue for generations.”
This love of the countryside has been passed down to the now King Charles III, who has spent the past 50 years speaking out about climate change, pollution and deforestation. In fact, last year he went live on BBC radio to discuss the importance of nature, healthy soil and carbon sequestration.
Greener pastures ahead?
Along with the Queen’s death comes the termination of any current Royal warrants awarded to food and drink producers. At present, the application process involves supplying the Royal households for at least five years and demonstrating environmental and sustainable policies.
However, with King Charles III long having demonstrated his environmental credentials, this presents an opportunity for stricter environmental targets in order to gain a Royal warrant, and the allowance of new, environmentally-focused businesses to gain one.
Carina Millstone, executive director of food campaign group Feedback, told Speciality Food, “Whereas Royal warrants have historically been granted to some big food brands manufacturing unhealthy food with dubious environmental credentials, the king may wish to bestow royal warrants to companies addressing the issues close to his heart.
“This could be an opportunity for Charles III to continue his life-long leadership in tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change, deforestation, and the necessary transition to agroecological farming.
As Martin Ballantine, managing director of Piracy Corporation, explained, “The new monarch has historically held outspoken and passionate views on a diverse range of matters – most notably on farming, conservation and the environment.
“Our new king has the opportunity to really firm up on the ‘green’ side of warrant granting, such as setting hard environmental targets and genuine, measurable, commitments for previous holders – plus allowing new, environmentally-focused, businesses to gain one, (or, better yet, replace an old holder) without a past Royal trading history.
“A progressive monarch would, surely, be happy to give a Royal ‘thumbs-up’ to those who are already acting responsibly? Those, for instance, who’ve led the way in the B-Corp movement, in the elimination of plastics, or in championing regenerative agriculture?”
As the farming community, ethical producers and indie retailers call for British leaders to champion quality, sustainability and provenance, this presents a significant opportunity to change the current modus operandi for a greener future.