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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Implications of a Nutrition Driven Food Policy for Land Use and the Rural Environment

Common Agricultural Policy reform is shifting farm policy away from traditional production support; meanwhile concern with diet-health relationships will move nutritional goals to the policy front-line, with major implications for food demand and land use.

This work examines the potential for development of sustainable food chains capable of delivering healthy foods at prices consumers are willing to pay, and assesses the impact on land use and the rural environment and economy.

The research studies extensive livestock production systems and their effects on the fat composition of ruminant meat and dairy products. Likewise, it studies fruit and vegetable production systems, transport and storage and their effects on nutrient levels. Consumers are being surveyed to assess their attitudes, behaviour and willingness to pay for healthier and locally produced foods. The information is fed into models of demand, land use and employment and the implications of alternative policy scenarios for landscapes and biodiversity are assessed as well as the value countryside users place on those changes.

Subsidiary objectives are:

  • To model the effects on consumer demand, land use, rural employment, landscape and biodiversity of the availability of domestically produced nutritionally improved fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat products.
  • To assess novel production systems for soft fruit and lettuce with respect to beneficial micronutrient and phytochemical levels, examine postharvest degradation, and compare imported and domestic produce; and assess novel extensive ruminant livestock production systems for improved fatty acid composition in meat and milk.
  • To estimate consumers' attitudes, behaviour and willingness to pay for local and nutritionally improved foods and use these to model the options for and implications of nutrition driven food policy for the rural economy, land use and human health.

The work is being undertaken at the University of Reading and involves a stakeholder platform comprising consumer groups, rural organisations, agricultural, food retail, food service and food production industries as well as Government scientists.