Future System Shocks: A buffer stock system of nutrient-dense foods is essential — and feasible

The UK is facing the all-too-real prospect of food shortages and scarcities. It is essential that there are buffer stocks of safe, nutritious food for these times.

As our recent scenarios exercise with people steeped inside the food system illuminates that it  is entirely feasible for the UK to have distributed system buffer contingency stocks of nutrient-dense foods; see our latest report: One Scenario: Buffer contingency food stocks.

What’s more, the setting up of such a system would radically transform the UK food system to be measurably, significantly better both human and planetary health.

The Government would need to set up the fundamentals for it to happen, as outlined in the Preface to the report, replicated below:

The third page, replicated below, distils the essence of the buffer stock system.

This fifth page shows how such a system could operate at a local level . . .

Think of the wealth of ideas the participants in our scenarios exercise came up with . . .

A new community catering supply service with its protected supply chain of retail surplus stocks + wholesale purchases + at-cost buffer stock rotations . . .  a new mass catering role for anchor institutions . . . professionally equipped and managed community-owned kitchens . . .a click’n’collect storage network for ambient, chill and cold produce  . . . and more . . . plus  opportunities as yet unimagined ways for the food system to make our world a better place.


  1. The report is only five pages long.
    It also has a couple of annexes (categories of food system threats, and about Nova group 4 products.
    Plus lots of endnotes with reference, more info et al — marked with quotation bubbles alongside so you can skim read ’em.
  2. Also, my apologies for the fuzzy nature of the images above; there’s a size limit on uploads. They all look much better, much clearer in the report itself.

note: As we were completing this report, the IPPR asked us to respond to a Call for Evidence. So we did; our Response is here and focusses on policy implications and implementation.

  One thought on “Future System Shocks: A buffer stock system of nutrient-dense foods is essential — and feasible

  1. A Public Analyst responded to this Report with these words:

    Very interesting reading and some new concepts for me to look into such as the NOVA food classification system and the protein leverage hypothesis.

    Notes: Food standards and safety requirements are enforced by local authority Trading Standards as well as Environmental Health. EH tend to do it in unitary and second-tier authorities, TS in first-tier authorities. TS tend to be more focussed on standards, e.g. composition, labelling, contamination, authenticity and fraud, whereas EH are focussed on hygiene, e.g. pathogens, and more recently, allergens.

    In the #5 graphic, I guess the facilities would be inspected (if for a FHRS grade) and/or audited (say, against a third party standard like BRCGS Food Safety or Storage & Distribution), the products stored therein tested for safety and perhaps quality? Assurance being the end result of these activities.

    You are probably aware that with the diminishing numbers of EHOs/TSOs now employed by local authorities, much of this type of work is now being carried out by testing, inspection and certification (TIC) companies, who would be considered third party. Many of the auditors/inspectors come from an EH or food manufacturing background.

    It’s hard to know where to go with it next.

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