Food industry net zero ambitions are being supported by a new network of researchers and academics backed by £5 million in key funding.
Food industry net zero is a pressing issue as the UK’s agri-food industry is responsible for almost a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Funded to the tune of £5 million, the network will bring UK researchers together to explore effective ways to support the industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and improve its environmental sustainability.
It will also help the UK’s agri-food industry to minimise the environmental impacts of overseas trade, enhance biodiversity, maintain healthy ecosystems, nurture livelihoods and support healthy consumer habits.
Led and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK Research and Innovation and four of its research councils, the network will bring together researchers, industry leaders, government bodies and members of the public to help achieve food industry net zero.
Given its significant contribution, the food industry is one industry in which greenhouse gas emissions needs to be addressed if the country is to meet its net zero goals by 2050. The agri-food industry is more than farming alone and involves the whole journey from the farm to the plate and beyond, including manufacturing, retail, consumption and waste management.
Any efforts to achieve food industry net zero and reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions requires expertise from across a range of research disciplines including agriculture, biological sciences, natural sciences, environmental sciences, physical sciences, engineering, economics and social sciences.
Dr Angelina Sanderson Bellamy, associate professor of food systems at the University of the West of England, and project co-lead, said: “This is a hugely important and exciting initiative, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to build a network to move the agri-food system towards net zero. Climate change is increasingly recognised as the major threat for humanity. Extreme weather events, likely caused by climate change, are already decimating crop yields.
“We need to convene action to secure healthy and sustainably produced food for all. The scale and urgency of the challenge means the old ways of establishing and settling upon research priorities will not do. It is vital that researchers and stakeholders come together in a spirit of openness and collaboration, and with real urgency, to mobilise ideas and resources around advancing the transition.
“The 2020s is the decade of action. The three-year period of this project will be absolutely critical for the decade and jump-starting coordinated research and action. We’re excited to work with stakeholders across the agri-food system to put us on a net zero pathway.”
The funding will run for three years, starting from July 2022.