University of York leads major new UK food sustainability project


Researchers from the University of York have been awarded a £2.74 million grant to lead a new food systems resilience project.

IKnowFood: Integrating Knowledge for Food Systems Resilience is a four year project funded by the Global Food Security-Food System Resilience programme.

One of five UK interdisciplinary projects to be awarded a portion of £9 million, the collective research looks to improve productivity and sustainability across the food system to ensure resilient supply chains and influence food choices to relieve pressure on global food systems.

The York project, which starts in October, is led by Professor Bob Doherty, Acting Dean of the York Management School, with collaborators from across the Universities of York, Liverpool and Manchester.

Professor Doherty explains: “Systems of food production, trade and consumption are increasingly vulnerable to interconnected political, economic and ecological shocks associated with climate, environmental changes, shifts in farming practices and consumer lifestyle changes.

“We will take an interdisciplinary multi-stakeholder approach to develop a unified understanding of ‘food system resilience’ using tools and methods to integrate the knowledge and perspectives of hitherto disparate food system contributors.

“Our aim is to produce new datasets, information resources, technology tools for farmers, decision making tools for business and consumer mobile technologies, all working to minimise trade-offs and secure complementarities.”

Science Minister, Jo Johnson MP, said: “From disease protection to improving management of global food shocks, these research projects will help tackle the serious threat of food shortages. Supporting these exciting and innovative solutions will help the UK food industry be better prepared for external factors and help provide food security to millions around the world.”

The York research application was supported by a range of industry partners including Fairtrade pioneer Cafedirect, supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), the Soil Association, IAgrE (The Institution of Agricultural Engineers), the WWF’s Luc Hoffmann Institute, NFU (National Farmers Union) and CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International).