THE National Farmers Union (NFU) of Scotland has called on the UK and Scottish governments to make changes to food labelling to improve the nation’s food security, self-sufficiency, and bolster the home production of high-quality food.
Martin Kennedy, president of NFU Scotland, made the call at AgriScot earlier this week, where he said the proposed new labelling initiative would properly recognise the high production standards in the country and make it easier for all parts of the food chain to support domestic production.
NFU revealed that it has already started discussions with politicians and other stakeholders around a label that could ‘clearly’ identify food products where more than 50% of ingredients had been sourced from outside the UK. This, it added, would give greater transparency on where food has been sourced from and would thus allow consumers to make more informed choices.
Speaking at the event Mr Kennedy said, “As an industry we are extremely proud of what we produce and how we produce it, but sadly when it comes to generating a return, it doesn’t stack up.
“A labelling initiative could allow us to better inform our consumers about the origin of all the food and drink they are purchasing and allow them to make informed decisions. I firmly believe that this is where we could see governments and industry working together like never before.
“I believe loyalty to domestic production from all parts of the food chain can be supported by legislative change to labelling and that would enhance our ability to keep producing food profitably and locally.
“It is a huge frustration to farmers and crofters when we regularly see our own produce, which has been raised and grown to some of the highest standards, being undermined by imports that often fail to meet or match our standards of production.
“Here in Scotland, we have a fantastic opportunity to address this through the good food nation act, expected early next year, whereby undisputed transparency of where our food comes from will allow our consumers to make a real informed choice. Our consumers showed real loyalty to our products throughout the recent pandemic, and we must build on that momentum.
“However, the success of any labelling initiative would be dependent on it being applied across the UK. This would be a real game changer in terms of supporting our own food producers.
“At prime minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘Farm to Fork’ summit in Downing Street earlier this year, which I attended, he gave a clear commitment to supporting domestic production, self-sufficiency and addressing our record on food security. More transparent labelling presents an opportunity to be part of that commitment.
“Clearly identifying where food has been sourced from will also highlight how robust and genuine our retailer and food service sector promises on supporting local produce really are.”