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Food systems academics in north of England join forces with industry, gov and charities to have real-world impact

04/11/20 – Event / Webinar / N8 AgriFood / Research / UK

Food systems academics in north of England join forces with industry, gov and charities to have real-world impact

Food systems academics and policy experts from the North of England’s eight most research-intensive universities – known as ‘N8 AgriFood’ – have teamed up with the food and drink industry, central and local government, and charities to develop a week of webinars (9–13 November) aimed at considering how such parties can work together to tackle some of the biggest challenges our food system currently faces.

With food poverty increasing as a result of Covid-19, and food supply being disrupted at the start of the pandemic, as well as Brexit impacting international trade and food imports, the N8 AgriFood academics believe that their research having a real-world impact has never been more important.


In response, the allied institutes – Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York – are launching ‘N8 AgriFood Food Systems Policy Hub’ with a week of webinars, running from Monday 9th to Friday 13th November. 

A week of food system webinars


The webinars will explore various food system challenges:


• Monday 9 November: Food supply in a changing world

• Tuesday 10 November: Childhood food poverty in the UK


• Wednesday 11 November: Ecosystem markets for a green recovery

• Thursday 12 November: Tackling global food issues through local action


• Friday 13 November: How can policy support agrifood innovation?

Over 20 speakers  


The week promises to be thought provoking, and will be focused on making a real-world impact with contributions from over 20 speakers. Along with N8 AgriFood academics and policy experts, there will be speakers from:


• Arid Agritech

• Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)

• First Love Foundation

• Food and Drink Federation

• HENRY - the charity helping babies and young children get the best possible start in life

• Institute of Grocery Distribution

• Lancaster City Council and Lancashire County Council

• National Farmers Union (NFU)

• Sustain - the alliance for better food and farming

Research with real world impact

Professor Bob Doherty, N8 AgriFood Food Systems Policy Hub Director and Professor of Marketing in York Management School at the University of York, explained: “Real-world impact is the driving force behind the N8 AgriFood Food Systems Policy Hub. As academics, we work in partnership with industry, government and charities and take a food systems approach to our research.

“We combine knowledge across a range of disciplines, such as agriculture, biology, marketing and psychology, to provide research evidence which informs policy at local, national and international levels and in turn creates positive social and environmental change.”

Building on recent successes

The launch of the N8 AgriFood Food Systems Policy Hub builds on recent successes. Over the past six months, N8 AgriFood academics have:

• Contributed research on the important role a healthy breakfast plays in learning with this underpinning the School Breakfast Bill, which aims to give children in need a free school breakfast so they don’t face a day of learning hungry.

• Given evidence to the House of Commons International Trade Committee considering the impact of COVID-19 on international food supply, which informed ‘The COVID-19 pandemic and international trade’ report.

• Provided various expert opinions for part one of the National Food Strategy, which considers how we can develop a sustainable food system and is the first major review of our food system in 75 years.

Professor Louise Dye, Professor of Nutrition and Behaviour from the School of Psychology at the University of Leeds, said: “We’ve been working with Emma Lewell-Buck MP and the charities Magic Breakfast and Feeding Britain to support the School Breakfast Bill. This cross-party bill has recently progressed to a second reading in the House of Commons and it’s been amazing to see it being supported by Marcus Rashford.

“This is exactly why we do the work we do. We’re delighted to see our research demonstrating the importance of a healthy breakfast for a day of learning at school and it helping to make social change.”

Find out more about the launch of the N8 AgriFood Food Systems Policy Hub and the week of five webinars here.

Latest issue – Vol 1/23
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