Sir: I’m a supporter of UK agriculture and can understand the NFU’s political position (‘UK’s foods supplies would run out today without imports, NFU warns,’ thegrocer.co.uk, 14 August). However, in my experience, the purchasers of UK agricultural products understand that too much concentration of supply becomes a risk in itself.
There needs to be a balance between the benefits of shorter, nearer supply of agricultural raw materials (traceability, safety and brand) and the acceptance that localised sourcing strategies increase businesses’ sensitivity to extreme weather, disease outbreaks, changes to trade laws and so on.
The Grocer has covered a few examples of this already in 2013 (eg those dependent on the UK for weather-sensitive materials such as soft wheat).
Perhaps it would be better to focus on developing strong export markets to sell more products if that’s what the goal is. My question to the NFU would be: what level of self-sufficiency is it aiming for? 80%? 90%? 100%?
Richard Sheane, partner, 3 Keel