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Integrated Food Policy

Though food is increasingly understood as an interconnected system, policies targeting different parts of the food system are typically made in isolation.

A systems approach to food policy means making connections across discrete policy areas, different levels of government, and between the public, private and third sectors. Developing more integrated policy is an attempt to establish those connections more formally.

The brief linked below explores the concept of integrated food policy and what it looks like in practice. It proposes three different types of integrated food policy:


  1. Cross-cutting plans and strategies that bring everything related to food together

  2. Integrating food into other policy areas to ensure ‘food in all policies

  3. Designing individual policy interventions to meet multiple food system goals.

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Type 1. Cross-cutting plans and strategies that bring everything related to food together

My PhD was a comparative analysis of two attempts to create a new integrated food strategy in the UK and Australia. The UK went through a process of developing a national food strategy from 2007-2010, in an attempt to bring all of the relevant parts of food-related policy together under an overarching framework. Australia undertook a similar exercise between 2010-2013, resulting in a 'National Food Plan'. Both the UK and Australian attempts ultimately failed when a change in government, and political party, resulted in the integrated food strategies being abandoned. Along with this issue of government change, the Thesis also identifies several barriers to integrated food policy, including the way policymaking responsibilities are shared, and a lack of clarity about the purpose of the projects. 


This book chapter summarises some of the findings of the PhD:

Parsons, K., Barling, D. and Lang, T., 2018. UK policymaking institutions and their implications for integrated food policy. In Advances in Food Security and Sustainability (Vol. 3, pp. 211-251). Elsevier.

(Let me know if you have problems accessing)

Type 2. Embedding food into other policy sectors

The ‘food in all policies’ type of integration has been favoured in attempts to join up food-related policies at the local or city level. The brief explains how this type of integration works, and provides an example of its application in London. 


Source: Parsons and Hawkes 2019

Type 3. Policy measures which meet multiple food system goals

The third kind of integrated policy which I have distinguished is using particular policy tools to meet multiple food system goals. This brief (co-authored by Parsons and Hawkes 2018) exploring the potential for 'co-benefits' for multiple policy sectors of interventions in the food system proposes several policy interventions which could be re-designed to meet health, environmental, social and economic food system objectives.

Connecting Food Systems for Co-benefits  »

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Source: Parsons and Hawkes 2018

The idea of how particular policy levers can meet multiple goals, increasing their transformative potential, is also the subject of this report, which draws on best practice from around the world, to examine what a transformative approach to food procurement policy would look like:

What would a transformative approach to....Food Public Procurement look like? »

The report proposes the following vision:


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