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Affordable food: getting values into the value range

31/01/13
The UK’s ‘age of austerity’ has put the affordability of food firmly on the political agenda. Over four million people in the UK are currently experiencing food poverty, and many more cash-strapped householders are juggling tight budgets.
Affordable food: getting values into the value range

With food prices likely to continue to go up in coming years, can ‘values’ play a part in people’s decisions around food, or will ‘value’ win the day? The January 2013 meeting of the Food Ethics Council’s Business Forum asked what role businesses can play into embedding values into food choices in a way that doesn’t cost the earth, and doesn’t mean that ‘good’ food is the preserve of those on higher incomes.

Participants explored how to reconcile the potentially conflicting objectives of providing ‘affordable’ food and paying a ‘true’ price for it (incorporating environmental and social costs). It also considered how feasible it is to eat ‘well’ on a budget and explored what mechanisms might enable those on lower household incomes to be able to afford ‘good’ food. It also discussed what we mean by ‘affordable’ food and who is really paying for the cheap products (affordable to whom?).

We are grateful to our speakers, Donald Hirsch, writer on social policy and Director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University and Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, London. The meeting was chaired by Helen Browning, Chair of the Food Ethics Council and Chief Executive of the Soil Association.

Download the report.