The sudden and unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on daily life exposed previously undetected vulnerabilities in the food system. Panic buying and increased demand coupled with the prolonged closure of the hospitality industry saw supply chains come under new and intense pressures affecting access to and availability of healthy food. Our experts worked to analyse these threats and provide evidence for future policy action that will strengthen the resilience of food systems in the face of future pandemics.

Our Impacts and Outputs

Person stocking food bank shelves

Responding to COVID-19: Overcoming barriers to food access in the Liverpool City Region 

This is a policy brief by Dr Grace Patterson and N8 AgriFood Chair Professor Jonathan Rushton from the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place at the University of Liverpool.

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Stocked shelves in a food bank

How COVID-19 has exposed inequalities in the UK food system

This paper is part of the N8 AgriFood Collection for Emerald Open Research, written by Dr Madeleine Power, Prof Bob Doherty, Dr Katie Pybus and Prof Kate Pickett, University of York. It draws upon their perspective to comment, in the early stages of the pandemic and associated lockdown, on the empirical and ethical implications of COVID-19 for socio-economic inequalities in access to food in the UK.

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Supermarket aisle

COVID-19 and food supply report

N8 AgriFood academics contributed expert opinions through written evidence submissions from the IKnowFood and STFC Food Network+ projects, providing expertise on food poverty and undisrupted cross-border food supply chains during lockdown for this report from the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

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Lorry surrounded by fields

The COVID-19 pandemic and international trade report

In July 2020 the House of Commons International Trade Committee published its report ‘The Covid-19 pandemic and international trade’. The committee invited Policy Hub Director, Professor Bob Doherty, University of York, and Policy Hub Working Group member Professor Fiona Smith, University of Leeds, to give expert evidence as witnesses to the enquiry under an oral evidence meeting entitled ‘The Impact of Coronavirus on Businesses and Workers’. Professor Doherty and Professor Smith’s evidence was referenced many times in the final report, particularly in the sections on UK Trade in Essential Goods, International Response, and Ensuring Future Supply Chain Resilience.

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Rebuilding a resilient Britain

The demand for the collection and use of evidence to inform policy is sharply increasing as government departments respond to the pandemic, its consequences, and the challenges of the years to follow. The Rebuilding a Resilient Britain (RRB) programme was launched in July 2020 to bring together more than 200 researchers, funders, and policy makers from all career stages. Their challenge was to identify evidence and uncover research gaps around a set of cross-cutting Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) chosen for their relevance to the recovery from the pandemic. Food fell into many of these ARI’s; Policy Hub Working Group Member Professor Tony Heron contributed to the Land Use, Trade and Aid group whilst Dr Carrie Bradshaw, a Parliamentary Academic Fellow from the University of Leeds, contributed to the Land Use working group.

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POSTnote research briefing – A resilient UK food system

In 2020 N8 AgriFood collaborated with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) to offer a Policy Internship, where a PhD student from one of N8 AgriFood’s universities would be sent to Westminster to produce a POSTnote on resilient UK food systems. The three month internship in early 2020 unforeseeably coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, adding a new and highly responsive element to the briefing paper, produced by the successful candidate Joe Llanos; a fourth year student at the University of Sheffield. Joe also wrote a blog piece, detailing his time with POST.

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