Famous food critic and TV personality Jay Rayner has blasted supermarkets for ‘decimating’ British agriculture and reducing the nation’s self-sufficiency in food.
Mr Rayner made the remarks at Taste Lancashire, an event to celebrate the county’s rich food economy.
He has previously snubbed an invitation to share his expertise with Defra Secretary Michael Gove, opting to write a brutal open letter to the minister which went viral instead.
Mr Rayner said: “Over the past 25 years, the self-sufficiency of Britain in food has declined to a greater, worrying degree.
“In the mid-90s, we were about 75 per cent self-sufficient in food. There is actually no desire for us to be 100 per cent self-sufficient in food, it is not a good idea, but we were at least 75 per cent self-sufficient.
“I am not one of those who slags off the supermarkets by instinct. They have given many good things to society, but one of the things they have also done is completely undermine the agricultural base in the UK by forcing prices ever further down and down and down.
“That has decimated various parts of the food industry. We have seen it in dairy, we have seen it in pig farming. It has impacted many sections of agriculture, and as a result, we are now at 60 per cent self-sufficiency.”
“However, we obviously export some of our food, which means just slightly less than 50 per cent of the food we eat in this country is actually produced here.”
Mr Rayner went on to point out how the UK’s reliance on food imports in a changing world left the country vulnerable.
“There has been a massive explosion of the middle classes in Asia, China and India”, he said.
“They are consuming vast amounts of the meat we thought was ours. The supermarkets thought for many years they could just buy on the open market, and they are now finding themselves cut out around the world from all of those markets.”