It started so well

images (157)The business interview first thing this morning on Radio 4 (at about 6.20) was with Justin King who was CEO of Sainsbury until July 2014. It began so well, with a suggestion that we as a nation need to focus more on the issue of food production and the jobs involved. One in 7 jobs is in the food chain. Then sadly the interview disappeared into a mess created entirely by Mr Kings worldview and he was not once challenged by Simon Jack for its rationale. According to Mr King we will never go back to buying food that is produced locally and so the call he made was for greater investment by scientists in finding ways of keeping food fresh longer. I believe Mr King is wrong although I am no retailer and whilst I support his call for a greater focus on the food chain my own suggestion is that we develop economists who are more food literate and can introduce the benefit of local economies to the enormous procurement frameworks that public sector organisations such as the NHS and Universities use. A few years ago I was involved in some discussions taking place between a local hospital and some local food producers. There was will on both sides for the hospital to procure their food locally, and there had even been a food outlet developed on the campus of one of the hospitals that used local food and employed local people some of whom had learning disabilities. However the barrier was that Hospitals did not have the freedom to purchase food locally on the scale which would have made a difference to the local food producers or indeed the hospital itself. Despite this both sides recognised that there were benefits to patients and the environment if a new way of working could be found. I fully accept that my knowledge is a great deal more out of date than that of Mr King and I don’t have the experience of running a large retailer. However I do understand that collecting food from all over the country, removing it to a few hubs from which it can be distributed back to local communities, whether in supermarkets, hospitals or universities is not the only way of applying science to our food chain. I also know that when I am out shopping, I do pay attention to food labels and if marketed appropriately would always buy local given that choice!


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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