Food supplies for the year would have ran out yesterday if the UK had been relying solely on domestic produce, farmers have warned.
Falling self-sufficiency means Britain produces less than two-thirds (62%) of the food the country consumes, down from 75% in 1991, the National Farmers’ Union said.
If all this food were stored and eaten from January 1, the “cupboard” would have been bare by August 14, it calculated.
NFU president Peter Kendell described the situation as “frankly alarming” and warned the UK could not simply chase the cheapest food deals around the world, but must “empower” its farmers to make the most of natural resources.
He urged the Government to help create an environment where farming businesses could invest, to address market failures and iron out price volatility to ensure the food chain can increase supplies.
He also pointed to problems with long, complex supply chains which, farmers have warned, led to the scandal that saw horse meat contaminate processed meat products.
The UK imports ï¿½37.6bn in food and drink, and while it is a trading nation, in tough economic times, a strong food-producing industry is essential, Mr Kendall said.
He likewise urged the public to put pressure on their local supermarkets, restaurants and MPs to back British farming.
In response to the current situation, the NFU is launching a Back British Farming charter, which has already won the support of the National Pig Association (NPA).
NPA general manager Zoe Davies: “With a bit of encouragement, our pig farmers could be persuaded to gently step up production and the whole country will benefit as a result.”