Understanding the challenges of the food system

Last updated:
11 April 2016
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have come together under the multi-agency Global Food Security programme, to jointly fund five research projects on understanding the challenges of the UK food system.


The UK food system is embedded in a wider system that is increasingly globalised. The FSA and ESRC identified an area of mutual interest around the challenges that this presents to the UK agri-food system, food safety, food fraud/crime and consumer trust.

Issuing a joint call to support research around the safety and confidence effects of different approaches to food provision, supply chain management and organisation, and how any findings might lead to policy interventions and influence consumer, regulator and industry behaviours, FSA and ESRC successfully awarded five research grants to fund five research projects. These are:

  • Making provisions: anticipating food emergencies and assembling the food system (Dr Andrew Donaldson, Newcastle University)
  • Food fraud: a supply network integrated systems analysis (Mr Jon Spencer, Manchester University)
  • Older people’s perceptions and experiences of strengths and vulnerabilities across the UK food system (Dr Wendy Wills, University of Hertfordshire)
  • Public perceptions of the UK food system: public understanding and engagement, and the impact of crises and scares (Ms Caireen Roberts, NatCen Social Research)
  • Analysis of food supply chains for risk and resilience to fraud/crime (Professor Christopher Elliott, Queen's University Belfast)

This activity builds upon a joint ESRC-FSA public policy seminar that was held in March 2012, on 'Global food systems and UK food imports'. The resulting report can be found at this link: Global food systems and UK food imports: Resilience, safety and security.

Further information