Transforming UK Food Systems Programme
The Transforming UK Food Systems Programme is an interdisciplinary research programme that will help transform the UK food system within a global context by addressing 2 over-arching questions:
- If we put healthy people and a healthy natural environment at the heart of the food system, what would we eat, how would we encourage people to eat it, and where would that food come from? What would we grow and manufacture in the UK and what would we need to import?
- In delivering this transformed food system, what interventions would be needed across government, business and civil society?
This programme will consider the complex interactions between health, environment, economic and behavioural factors across the food system, while taking into account wider needs for different groups in society.
The programme will foster a joined-up approach linking nutritionally healthy and accessible diets with sustainable food production and supply. It will deliver coherent evidence to enable concerted action from government, business and civil society to:
- help achieve dietary health
- support the population to achieve or maintain a healthy weight
- help achieve net zero emission goals
- reduce health inequalities
The programme has so far funded 15 research projects and 1 centre for doctoral training, tackling challenges across the food system, joining up aspects from production through to consumption.
Following analysis of the programme’s funded portfolio, the role of trade and associated fiscal interventions (for example, tariffs and subsidies) in food system transformation was identified as underrepresented across the funded projects. This area has the potential to act as a big lever in driving food system transformation, and would add value to the previously funded portfolio, therefore this funding opportunity has been launched to fund a project in this area.
Current funding opportunity
This funding opportunity will support 1 research project, up to £680,000 at 80% full economic cost and up to 2 years in duration. The project will model the suite of factors that influence food imports to the UK market, and the associated interventions that could be implemented to transform the UK food system to improve the dietary health of UK citizens and the health of the environment.
This recognises that the UK imports approximately 46% of the food it consumes (UK food security report 2021: theme 2: UK food supply sources 2021) therefore transforming the UK food system will need consideration of the foods that we might need to import.
The research funded in this funding opportunity, along with the projects funded in the first and second opportunities, and the Centre for Doctoral Training, will contribute to the delivery of the overall programme aims.
Researchers from any discipline within UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) remit can lead an application. Project teams must be interdisciplinary and include economics expertise, and it is expected that proposals to this funding opportunity will be multi-institutional (2 or more). Collaboration with researchers with relevant expertise at non-UK institutions can be facilitated through sub-contracting, however this is not mandatory.
Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF)
SPF has been established to:
- drive an increase in high-quality interdisciplinary research and innovation
- ensure that UKRI’s investments link up effectively with government departments’ research priorities and opportunities
Proposals must therefore consider and describe how their research also addresses:
- government policy research needs at national and regional scales
- access to healthy diets and maintaining healthy weight
- health inequalities
- environmental sustainability
- emerging challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis
The successful project will be expected to:
- work with the Programme Director, (Professor Guy Poppy) and the UKRI SPF Food Systems team
- participate in wider programme network events to add impact to the overall Transforming UK Food Systems SPF portfolio
Proposals are expected to be complementary to, but not spin-offs from, projects previously funded in the Transforming UK Food Systems SPF portfolio.
In this funding opportunity we are inviting interdisciplinary research proposals investigating the suite of factors that influence food imports to the UK market, and the associated interventions that could be implemented to transform the UK food system to improve the dietary health of UK citizens and the health of the environment.
Recognising the global nature of food supply chains, proposals are expected to tackle at least one of the following areas, ensuring that the lens is focused on the UK food system, and transformation for health and sustainability:
- the role that food imports should play in transforming the UK food system for healthy people and a healthy environment
- the role of fiscal interventions such as tariffs and subsidies and how these might impact areas such as food production, food manufacturing, supply chains, food prices and consumer behaviour
- the economics, market forces and attitudes associated with imported commodities and insights on how this translates into food products produced for, purchased and consumed by consumers
- the real and perceived risks, trade-offs and benefits associated with food imports in terms of securing a healthy, safe, accessible, affordable and sustainable food supply
- the impact of externalities on food imports to the UK market, such as food prices, global factors, market forces, and the impact of these on the health of the UK population and of the environment
Proposals tackling multiple of these areas are strongly encouraged. All proposals must be set in the context of the wider food system, taking into account the environmental and health impacts, synergies, trade-offs and unintended consequences, even if these are not actively researched.
Proposals should be interdisciplinary, with disciplines from across the whole UKRI remit encouraged, and the team must demonstrate that they include relevant economics expertise.
It is recognised that work looking at transforming the UK’s food supply from other countries will have social, economic and environmental implications for all the countries involved.
The social, economic and population health implications for the UK are in scope, however, these impacts on other countries are not, and should not be actively researched within proposals.
The environmental impact of the UK’s demand on other countries, and trade with other countries, is included within the scope of proposals.
Applications will be rejected before peer review for proposals which:
- are not focused on transforming the UK food system for healthy people and a healthy environment
- are not focused on foods consumed in the UK
- are looking at the social, economic and health impacts on countries other than the UK
- are focused solely on food safety