Global food experts to celebrate advances in solving global food systems challenges with N8 Agrifood


International scientists, industry, agricultural experts and policy makers are gathering later this month to hear how researchers in the North of England have been working to solve the challenges facing one of the world’s most vital commodities; food.


The N8 AgriFood annual conference promises to drive debate and provide solutions to some of the most critical challenges facing world food systems, with topics on the agenda including advances in urban agriculture and smart technology, food poverty, the role of behaviour change in relation to diet, food standards, and the effects of Brexit.

N8 AgriFood, which is a consortium of the eight most research intensive universities in the North of England, will share its contributions to tackling the urgent global crisis to provide sufficient, affordable, safe and nutritious food within a sustainable and resilient food system.

By showcasing its work since the establishment of the programme in 2015, the event will provide a platform for debate and discussion, bringing together domestic and international stakeholders from across the sector.

The two-day conference, being held at The Principal Hotel, in York, on October 22 and 23, features keynote presentations from the National Farmers Union’s Head of Food and Farming Phil Hambling, the Co-op’s Head of Food Policy Cathryn Higgs, and Jonathan Brooks, Head of the Agri-Food Trade and Markets Division within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The conference will be opened by the University of York’s Vice Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffrey, with an introduction by Riaz Bhunoo, director of the Global Food Security Programme.

The event’s agenda of 11 sessions also features speakers from Nestle, Defra, Oxfam, The Fairtrade Foundation, Which, and Natural England, as well as academics from within the N8 AgriFood programme.

Anthonia James, Operations Director for N8 AgriFood, said: “We are looking forward to sharing and celebrating our contributions to these significant challenges. There is increasing recognition of a need to provide solutions on a large scale, which can most efficiently be achieved by bringing together academics from a range of disciplines and stakeholders from across the sector. We are in an excellent position to respond to this need at such a crucial time.”

The conference, which includes a dinner at The National Railway Museum, provides vital opportunities for attendees to engage in the debate and interact with stakeholders from across the whole agri-food sector. Sessions over the course of the two days will address important and topical issues such as the global impact of the UK food system, health and nutrition along food supply chains, how can we produce and eat a sustainable diet, the impact of new technologies and how policy and regulation can drive sustainable food systems.

Entitled “Celebrating N8 AgriFood: Creating Solutions for a Sustainable Food System”, this year’s conference is being hosted by the University of York, Newcastle University and the University of Leeds, with sponsorship from Mathy & Squire and Ethersheds Sutherland.

The event will showcase world leading research from collaborations between the eight universities within the N8 Partnership, which also includes Durham University, Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool, The University of Manchester, and The University of Sheffield.

Professor Katherine Denby, N8 AgriFood’s Academic Director at York, said: “N8 AgriFood is a unique programme of eight universities working collaboratively across multiple disciplines to combine expertise that otherwise would not have been brought together.

“We are looking forward to joining with our seven other university partners to celebrate what we have collectively achieved and join them, and other external stakeholders at the conference, in helping to shape how we now move forward to continue to find solutions for a sustainable food system.”

N8 AgriFood has also teamed up with Biovale, a promoter of the bioeconomy in Yorkshire and the Humber, to run a pre-conference event on October 21 focussing on commercialising agri-food research.


The conference is expected to attract an audience of around 250 people over the two days. Registration is still open, to find out more visit . Media passes for the conference are available upon request from