Memorandum submitted by Unilever (SFS 58)
1. In December 2008 Unilever
was contacted to provide written and oral evidence to the EFRA Select Committee
inquiry on 'Securing Food Supplies up to
2050: The Challenges for the
2. We are pleased to provide
evidence to the Select Committee and present our views on a number of questions
which have been raised. Our main focus
is on the question of how well placed the
3. It should be noted that Unilever has also provided input to the written submission made by the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF). We therefore limit our responses to a number of key questions in addition to the evidence provided by FDF.
How to use the
4. In 2006 the
5. For the period 2010-2030
it is expected that the
6. We believe that the
development at global level and in the
7. The issue of food
security has received a substantial amount of political attention recently. This, together with an active participation
of key stakeholders, could result in the necessary improvements in future food production
capacity. This could answer the question
whether it will be possible to increase food/feed production by 50% in the
8. In this context it can be
argued that Europe and the
9. The possibilities for production and yield increases will have to be assessed on a crop-by-crop basis. As Unilever we are interested in a number of crops including oilseed rape for food production and fruit and vegetables. We would like to see a specific emphasis on the quality of the production. This should take into account the future demand for healthy foods.
10. Targeted investments in infrastructure, research and innovation would facilitate the expansion of agricultural production and productivity improvement. This should include water management, transport infrastructure as well as food storage.
Food Security versus Energy Security?
11. Unilever remains
concerned that certain national policy measures to promote the use of biofuels
are distorting commodity markets and increase pressure on the available food
supply. In our view we need to develop alternative
sources for renewable energy for electricity and transport fuels in the
How to manage
the transition process in the
12. We expect the UK Government to facilitate investments in agricultural production with the objective to increase yields and production for food in the period 2010-2030. The use of EU funds and national supplements could be organised in a way to obtain a successful transition. The criteria need to include the respective sustainability criteria with a specific focus on production/yield increase.
13. Concerning the science-base and the provision of training, it would be adequate to review the role of public and private organisations in this area. We believe that public-private partnerships could be an effective way forward to stimulate increased production of specific crops in specific regions. A specific focus on added value produce could serve the future demand as well as the revenues for primary producers.
14. A specific area of attention would be risk management. Investments to mitigate the risks associated with agricultural production will strengthen the financial capacity to invest in agricultural production. Insurance against droughts and floods as well as monetary and commodity market instruments all play a role in this context.
15. Considering the age
profile of the agricultural labour force in the
How to engage with European and international bodies on food policy?
16. In recent years the UK
Government played an important role in putting food security on the
international agenda. Further activities
in the UN including FAO would merit from active
17. In developing countries we need more partnerships to reduce inefficiencies in the supply chain between the farm and the plate. The question of supporting innovation will raise the issue of biotechnology in order to produce more drought and resistant crops and increase productivity.
18. At the same time we need to examine and develop recommendations to engage smallholder farmers to increase agricultural productivity as well as poverty alleviation. Smallholder farms have an important role to play in meeting domestic food security objectives in developing and emerging economies. Access to credits and access to inputs and consumer markets are critical issues in this context.