How has food consumption and availability changed over time in the UK?

Since the 1940s overall food consumption, as measured by average daily calorie intake, has fallen. In 1940, the average daily calorie intake was around 2350, this increased to around 2600cal in the 1960s but has dropped to around 1750 by 2000. But, this data doesn’t include calories from drinks, sweets or meals out. If you include these food types, calorie intake in 2000 was about 2150 however, this is still lower than in 1940.

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But food availability has risen. In the UK food availability is high – most people have enought to eat. The UK produces around 60% of the food it needs and imports the remainder. Food security is affected by where the food comes from. For example. home grown food availability can decrease if crops fail and imports can decrease if prices rise.

Food availability has increased over time due to:

  • Less food available during WW2 when there were global food shortages and imports to the UK were disrupted by German attacks on ships. The UK government introduced food rationing on foods suchs as meat, eggs, cheese and sugar to make sure everyone had a fair share.
  • Common Agricultural Policy was introduced in the 1950s. It increased production of certain crops such as wheat by intensifying farming (using more machinery etc). Since the 1990s, food production has become more sustainable and yields are fairly stable.
  • Growing demand for seasonal products (e.g. strawberries) all year round and high value foods (e.g. exotic fruits). Imports of these foods into the UK have increased so they are constantly available; we only produce 22% of the fruit and vegetables we eat.