Researchers from the University of Sheffield are striving to tackle the biggest global challenges to provide a sustainable, resilient and healthy food supply for all, as part of a new innovative programme bringing farmers, the government and leading academics together.
The international launch of the N8 AgriFood Programme, which will provide the catalyst for practical collaboration will take place today (21 June 2016) at the start of a two-day summit in Manchester.
Experts from the University of Sheffield will be amongst more than 50 speakers who will take to the stage from a variety of organisations across the food supply chain including: Sainsbury’s, Nestle, the National Farmers Union, HSBC, the Co-Operative Group and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Delegates will explore the need for a sustainable food system to meet the current and future needs of the world’s growing population, particularly in light of climate change impacts.
Critical issues such as building resilience in the food supply chain, closing the skills gaps, antibiotic resistance and integrated food and nutrition approaches, will be addressed.
The programme is being launched by the N8 Research Partnership, which is a collaboration of the eight most research-intensive universities in the north of England: Sheffield, Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and York.
The partnership brings together the greatest concentration of academics engaged in agri-food research in the UK with 370 researchers and £269 million of research funding.
Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said:
“This collaboration demonstrates the power of the N8 universities coming together to solve the big problems the country and the world faces.
“In our northern universities we have a remarkable concentration of talented researchers working, across the disciplines, on many aspects of food and agriculture research. By working together we can do so much more to solve the problems we face in ensuring the world has a resilient supply of safe and nutritious food.”
Peter Jackson, Professor of Human Geography and Chair of the University of Sheffield’s Sustainable Food Futures (SheFF) group, will speak at the event and will examine consumer preferences, whether the next generation are going to change the face of the food sector and if consumers actually have control over what they eat.
Professor Jackson said:
“The N8 AgriFood programme is an exciting initiative that aims to address the global challenge of food security, making best use of finite resources to meet the needs of the world’s growing population, through integrated research ‘from farm to fork’.
“Sheffield is a key player in the network of eight northern universities with major strengths in agri-tech, supply chain analysis, consumer research and public health.”
SheFF tackles global food security through integrated interdisciplinary investigations or agri-food systems and brings together world-class researchers from across the University’s five faculties.
The group has three over-arching aims: the development of advanced bio-environmentally based farming systems, the transformation of the food business and retailing sector and embedding environmental and health improvements in global food production and consumption.
Other University of Sheffield experts involved in the N8 AgriFood programme include: Professor Lenny Koh from University’s Management School, and Professor Duncan Cameron from the Department of Biology and the Plant Production and Protection (P3) Centre.
Professor Koh is the Director of the Centre for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES) Director of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSCM) Research Centre at the University of Sheffield. She said:
“Sheffield plays a very important strategic leading role in this network by bringing and contributing our world leading research in science and technology, engineering and social science across the whole AgriFood chain to benefit users and society.
“We are already making a difference and leading transformational change in this area including: the role of a supply chain approach in science, technology and engineering and a critical resources nexus of materials, food energy, water, carbon supply chains by pioneering new and renewable materials, sustainable manufacturing supply chains and waste management.”