The government's new strategic framework for food has been hailed by manufacturers as the beginning of the end of conflicting and interventionist measures.

The 126-page Food Matters: Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century report, published this week by The Cabinet Office, set out four objectives: fair prices, choice, access to food and food security through open, competitive markets; continuous improvement in safety; healthier diets; and a more environmentally sustainable chain.

The Food and Drink Federation said the report heralded clearer communication and collaboration with industry. "Too often we have been on the receiving end of confused or conflicting signals about priorities and expectations from government and not known who to talk to," said director general Melanie Leech.

Gordon Brown said he had commissioned the report because of the massive transformation in Britain's food culture over the past 10 years that had "brought new and urgent policy challenges to the fore, which governments must act to meet."

The report was released on Monday and precipitated a hail of press coverage over the headline-grabbing figure that we throw away 4.1 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten every year costing each household an average of £420.

This was then linked to the proliferation of promotions by supermarkets such as bogofs. However Tesco corporate and legal affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe told The Grocer that these deals were an important tool for shoppers on a budget - especially the elderly and students.

The report recommended the creation of a Food Strategy Task Force. Although the FDF would not be represented, it said it planned to work with the task force to ensure the government delivered on its promises. The task force is expected to be established early next year.

The Saturday Essay p24