Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Scotland establishes taskforce to monitor food security in wake of invasion of Ukraine

A short-life taskforce has been established to monitor, identify and respond to any potential disruption to food security and supply resulting from the impact of the war in Ukraine.

The Scottish Government has set up the Food Security and Supply Taskforce jointly with industry. It will be co-chaired by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon and Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink, James Withers.

Drawing on technical and scientific knowledge and expertise from across a range of sectors, agencies and organisations, the taskforce will include key food and drink industry leaders and will meet frequently over the coming weeks.

Ms Gougeon said: “The truly terrible events in Ukraine and the resulting western sanctions on Russia are, rightly, changing the way the world does business. Our immediate focus as a Government continues to be on doing everything we can within our power to support the people of Ukraine and address their humanitarian need.

“We need to take action now to better understand the potential impact of disruption to the food supply chain in Scotland, how industry and government might work together to manage and mitigate those, and be alert to the resulting impact on the cost of food products.

“Over the last two years, our food and drink sectors have experienced a series of shocks in terms of disrupted supply chains and new barriers to trade through COVID and Brexit. It is clear that the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine will have further impacts – not least through the hugely challenging increases in energy bills which affect households and everyone in the food industry, from farmers to hauliers, processors to retailers.

“That is why the Scottish Government has convened a taskforce jointly with industry to monitor, identify and respond to these issues, as well as recommending actions that can be taken by business, the Scottish and UK Governments to mitigate the challenges. Crucially, the taskforce will also consider how we can continue to get products and food supplies to Ukraine we must not forget that there is a population still there that will desperately need our help and support in the weeks ahead.

“I welcome the involvement of food and drink industry leaders across Scotland and look forward to working together to strengthen food security and supply.”

James Withers said: “The establishment of this taskforce is a welcome and an important step. The immediate focus from the war in Ukraine is on the humanitarian fallout.  However, it is also critical that we assess urgently the potential impact of the conflict on national food security and supply. From wheat and barley to sunflower oil, Ukraine and the surrounding region is a major player in terms of global food supply and agricultural production.

“Immediate supplies of food and animal feed are secure, even if prices are rising sharply. However, whilst much still remains unknown in terms of the impact of the war on global supply chains, there is clearly a shock to the system coming. We must understand its implications for Scotland’s farmers, food manufacturers and consumers and consider any short or medium-term action we can take to mitigate their impact.”

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