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The production of food is the most important industry within Great Britain. Great Britain imports approximately 45% of its needs.
Supply of food to Great Britain:
Great Britain : 55%
EU : 26%
Africa : 4%
North America : 4%
South America : 4%
Asia : 4%
Rest of Europe : 2%
Australasia : 1%
Now one needs to analyse what type of food is imported and is it a necessity or just an add on. Importing fruit and vegetable from Africa does not add up on an environmental basis although as a percentage of total imports 4% is not significant although with the slight increase in global temperatures it seems to make sense to grow more exotic products in Great Britain.
At the moment within the EU, currently, British farmers get around £3.4bn a year in subsidies under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with the money distributed in the main on the basis of the size of the farm. This subsidy would need to be continued once Great Britain has left the EU.
In addition to this there needs to be a cohesive plan that supports the expansion of farming and the development of new technologies and practices that can grow more on the same amount of land utilising Artificial Intelligence.
As a society, Great Britain does however waste a substantial amount of food within the food manufacture, retail and wholesale sectors amounting to around 9.5 million tonnes in 2018 with a value of £19 billion a year. Around 43 million tonnes of food were purchased in the UK (the majority for in home use), meaning that the amount of food wasted post-farm-gate in the UK is equivalent 22%, a staggering amount.
In addition to food ending up as waste, around 700,000 tonnes of food surplus from manufacturing, retail and hospitality and food service is either being redistributed via charitable and commercial routes (56,000 tonnes in 2018) or being diverted to produce animal feed.
A total of 470 million tonnes of freight passed through UK ports in 2017, with 110 million more tonnes coming in than going out. A very significant amount (some 18.25 million tonnes) of this freight is food, and a lot of it is fresh or perishable: fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products.
||Exports £ Billions
||Imports £ Billions|
|Fruit and veg
|Dairy & egg
Coffee, tea, cocoa etc
Land. The agricultural area used is 23.07 million acres (9.34 million hectares), about 70% of the land area of the England. 36% of the agricultural land is croppable (arable), or 25% of the total land area.
The General Consensus is 5-10 acres to be self-sufficient even though a lot of those sources put the number at a lot less, the general consensus is that you really need at least 5 acres of land per person to be self-sufficient.
Whilst it will be hard to fully produce al the food needed by the population of Great Britain concerted efforts to improve and organise the farming sector are needed. Supporting the farming sector with funding and R&D must be a priority.
More to follow: