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Healthy food, healthy people, healthy planet

25 April 2022

UKRI has injected £14 million funding into crucial research that puts improved health outcomes for people and the natural environment at its core.

The funding, which has been awarded to 11 research projects, including the project proposal from Newcastle team, led by Prof. Lynn Frewer, in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, is the latest investment made by UK Research and Innovation as part of its Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) Programme.

To date, the SPF Programme has awarded a total £29 million funding to four large consortia projects, as well as a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).

A whole food system approach

Each spanning between two and three years in total, the 11 new research programmes will address key issues such as:

  • obesity and public health
  • sustainable agriculture
  • alternative protein sources
  • consumption patterns.

They will also take a food systems approach by integrating aspects from both:

  • production, processing, manufacturing and food environments
  • healthier diets and consumption.

Co-design for success

With the overarching aim of creating interventions that will transform the UK food system, all 11 projects:

  • integrate both social and natural sciences
  • collaborate with at least one stakeholder organisation from government, business or civil society
  • address current UK government research and development priorities.

Making a real impact

Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Executive Sponsor of the Transforming UK Food Systems SPF Programme, said:

“We have awarded funding to 11 excellent interdisciplinary projects focussing on food systems research.

“These projects cover areas such as the healthy consumption of under-utilised food stuffs, novel production systems and assessing whether cultured meat is a threat or an opportunity for UK farmers.

“There are also projects seeking to improve health through reformulation or strategic menu design in catered environments.

“We are at a very exciting point in the SPF Programme and the portfolio of awards demonstrates the breadth of potential impact these projects can have on UK food systems transformation.”

Human and environmental health centre stage

Professor Guy Poppy, Programme Director of the Transforming the UK Food Systems SPF Programme, said:

“The food system affects all of us every day and plays an essential role in both human health and the health of the planet.

“The 11 new projects joining our consortia and CDT means we now have a network of more than 37 UK research organisations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“That network is also supported by approximately 200 additional stakeholder organisations, including the private sector colleagues and other government departments and agencies.

“The range of projects engaged in the SPF Programme will help to address the complex challenges we face around dietary choice and methods of farming and will help to ensure there is sustainable and healthy food for everyone in the UK.

“The excellent research and researchers will also help to establish solutions and frameworks that can be tried and tested across the global food system, with the UK leading the way towards healthier and more sustainable food for all”.