IKnowFood conference

News | Posted on Friday 13 September 2019

Key findings from the University’s IKnowFood programme will be shared with leading representatives from the UK food industry at a conference in London on 17 and 18 September.

Led by Professor Bob Doherty from the York Management School, the four-year research programme aims to create positive social and environmental change within the UK food system. The project involves collaborators from the universities of Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester and is funded through the Global Food Security-Food System Resilience programme.

The conference will:

  • Identify an agenda (key features, mechanisms etc) for building a resilient UK Food System
  • Share the work of IKnowFood
  • Launch the IKnowFood Food System Resilience Network

Professor Doherty explained: “Systems of food production, trade and consumption are increasingly vulnerable to interconnected political developments such as Brexit; economic policies such as austerity; and ecological shocks associated with climate, environmental changes, shifts in farming practices, political changes and consumer lifestyle changes.

“We have taken an interdisciplinary multi-stakeholder approach working with farmers, food retailers and manufacturers, consumers, charities, local councils and policy makers to develop new tools and recommendations.”

These include:

  • New interventions that leverage insights from behavioural economics and social psychology in order to increase conservation farming practices and improve agricultural incentive schemes for farmers.
  • New approaches to co-creating innovations with farmers. These technologies will aid improved record keeping and early detection of both livestock and plant diseases.
  • Advanced computer trade models which have been used to explore the UK's dependence on deforestation risk commodities and are informing the development of a UK indicator for overseas impact of UK consumption.
  • Unpacked the governance of high risk commodities - for example, soy - to make recommendations for sustainable supply chain practices which will inform improved industry practice.
  • New recommendations for national and local government on tackling food poverty. Food banks are used by only a minority of those living with food insecurity: in our sample of 612 parents with children aged between four and 11 years, 24 per cent reported food insecurity but only 8 per cent reported having ever using a food bank. As a result, in collaboration with key community groups, IKnowFood has launched the Seeking Justice Report.

IKnowFood has been working with industry and policy engagement on food supply chain risk and food systems strategy development to integrate the knowledge and perspectives of different organisations in the food sector to enhance overall system resilience.

The IKnowFood research team will present the above new developments at the conference and also hear from industry experts including retailers, NGOs, farmer groups including the NFU and politicians.

Find out more about the conference.