Defra and the Department of Health – the future of the UK food chain horizon scanning research
The UK Government wanted to gather an evidence base of published information relating to the likely shape of the UK food chain in 2025, including social, environmental and economic implications. We needed to build on this understanding to develop a working definition of national interest in relation to food and health, and an understanding of the key drivers and trends that were likely to affect the future of the UK food chain.
What did we do?
We gathered a large body of publications. These evidences were classified according to the topic and key points were summarised and gathered into an online database. We set up an advisory panel of key food chain experts and an online event was organised for the advisory panel to express their opinions on the future of the food chain. In total, 37 interviews were conducted with experts from different topic areas and regions of the world.
To supplement evidence gathered through desk-based research and review of published material, 40 interviews with opinion leaders from different sectors of the food chain were conducted. These interviews were invaluable for providing information about cutting-edge developments. This evidence was used to construct a working definition of the national interest in relation to food and health and to develop a picture of the future structure and issues of the UK food chain in 2025 – for example the effects that climate change and an ageing population will have. It provided a valuable frame of reference to inform government policy in this area.
How did we break the cycle?
Rather than relying solely on a desk-based review of published material, Article 13 used an online database that was accessible by the advisory panel. Evidence collected from literature review was posted onto the website with a short summary of its content. Advisory panel members could then review the progress of the project and make suggestions for material to include in the review. This feedback process, together with the input from semi-structured interviews with key food chain experts ensured that the research was the most up to date and incorporating new emerging issues including shocks, drivers and trends.
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© Article 13 2005