The National Food Strategy report, authored by Leon restaurant co-founder Henry Dimbleby, outlines the nutrition and health inequalities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic and highlights people in the UK eat out more than their European counterparts.
The report focuses on the immediate threat to many UK families' food security posed by the expected economic fallout from the crisis. “Those in the hospitality sector have taken the biggest economic hit, with a higher proportion of furloughed staff (and expected redundancies) than any other profession. Across the wider population, the wave of unemployment now rushing towards us is likely to create a sharp rise in food insecurity and outright hunger,” Dimbleby wrote.
Trade body UKH welcomed the strategy and said chefs across the country were keen to promote healthy dining and cooking choices to the wider public.
Nicholls said: “A comprehensive national food strategy will undoubtedly impact on the hospitality sector, particularly if part of its aim is to influence eating habits. Our sector is supportive of efforts to promote healthier attitudes towards eating and we are supportive of plans to promote sustainability.
“We know it is something that many businesses are passionate about. Many have already been hard at work reformulating menus, cutting calories and rolling-out programmes to cut food waste. We are happy to play our part in positively shaping the diets of Britons. Teaching the importance of nutrition in school could go hand-in-hand with promoting careers in hospitality.”
However, the trade body reiterated its cautions that interventionist measures on the sector could cause additional financial pressures at an already challenging time.
Measures on the table include mandatory calorie labelling on food and alcoholic drinks at out-of-home venues, which organisations have said could be damaging for businesses trying to stay afloat.
Nicholls added: “It is important that any new measures avoid additional burdens for businesses or unnecessary costs. With so many businesses’ futures looking uncertain, avoiding extra costs is going to be key for the future of the sector.”