The political parties are more united on food issues than they realise, says Tim Lang

The UK food industry has been going through an astonishingly tumultuous period. Rocketing commodity prices. Climate change, water, population growth. The exposé of shocking waste. A split food culture: great food alongside junk. Obesity.

Despite this, real progress in food thinking has occurred. Parties differ in their views on splitting the FSA, regional politics and devolution, but I detect a new consensus.

Firstly, the EU is central. More than 80% of food legislation is hammered out in conjunction with 26 other countries. Opposition parties promise reviews of this, but the fact is that any government must engage. Whether it be the CAP 2013 review or labelling, the politics of public benefit is EU-centred.

Secondly, food security is mainstream. New Labour, wedded to global food markets and CAP bashing, is humbled. If the 2000 lorry strike showed the fragility of modern logistics, the 2006-08 price spike suggested market vulnerabilities.

Hilary Benn MP's Oxford Farming Conference speech this January would have been unthinkable four years ago. "Food security is as important to this country's future wellbeing and that of the world's as energy security. Securing both must be our priority."

Thirdly, after years of blame for food safety and disease bills, farming is back in the cuddly zone. "No farms, no food," says Nick Herbert MP, who wants the 'f' in Defra to stand for Farming. The Tory ruralism and localism agenda isn't just backing agriculture but "spelling out the value of farming to the nation".

Fourthly, environmental threats are real. The data is overwhelming. Food is climate change, water and waste impossible for politicians or companies to ignore.

Fifthly, corporate food power is hot. Ending retail price maintenance in 1964 gave retailers the green light to tackle manufacturer power. Now they are the problem. Politicians are half in love and half frightened. The promised ombudsman may be thin thinking, but it indicates pressure.

Sixthly, fiscal crisis remains. Efficiency savings won't be enough. The talk is of 20%-30% cuts. The state will be hollowed out further (until there's another crisis).

Finally, dietary change means influencing consumers while denying it, using 'nudge' and social marketing. Telling them nicely, leaving the rest to the market. It's markets wot rule, remember.