The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of food and nutrition security and sustainable food systems for the UK. This study, led by Dr Mike Rivington from the James Hutton Institute, with support from Chatham House and Cranfield University, seeks to assess how the UK food system is responding to COVID-19. It aims to identify points of vulnerability, and to use scenarios to examine how land use and management responses to COVID-19 could impact UK sustainability goals. The changes being considered include diet change, closer alignment of UK food production to UK demand, reduced reliance on imported animal feed, and greater use of agroecological practices and new technologies. We will also review lessons learned from the pandemic for adapting the food system to help achieve climate change and biodiversity goals.

  • DatesJune 2020 to May 2021
  • SponsorEconomic and Social Research Council
  • Funded£340,000
  • PartnersJames Hutton Institute, Chatham House

Impact and findings

This study brings together the issues of food security and agricultural sustainability. A sustainable food system has been defined as 'a food system that ensures food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition of future generations are not compromised'.