Healthy food, people and planet

Different types of colourful and healthy fruits and vegetables

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) adds £14 million funding into 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, is the latest investment made by UKRI as part of its Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) programme.

To date, the SPF programme has awarded a total of £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 and Executive Sponsor of the Transforming UK Food Systems SPF programme, said:

We have awarded funding to 11 excellent interdisciplinary projects focusing 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.

Further information

The 11 successful projects

University of Bristol

Sustainable nutrition, environment, and agriculture, without consumer knowledge

University of Reading

‘Raising the pulse’: systems analysis of the environmental, nutritional and health benefits of pulse-enhanced foods

University of Exeter

Transformational blueprint for a blue economy on UK terrestrial farms: integrating sustainable shrimp production in a changing agricultural landscape

Harper Adams University

Pasture to plate: realising the enormous potential of UK grasslands

Middlesex University

Social enterprise as a catalyst for sustainable and healthy local food systems

Royal Agricultural University

Is cultured meat a threat or opportunity for UK farmers?

University of Edinburgh

Transforming the debate about livestock systems transformation

University of Oxford

Thinking beyond the can: mainstreaming UK-grown beans in healthy meals

University of Reading

Increasing UK dietary fibre: the case for the great white British loaf

Newcastle University

Sus-health. Sustainable and healthy diets for all.

University of Aberdeen

Fio-food, food insecurity in people living with obesity: improving sustainable and healthier food choices in the retail food environment

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