Food tsar Henry Dimbleby blames UK supermarket culture for recent food shortages

Buxton International Festival audiences will get the chance to quiz England’s Food Tsar on his claim that Britain’s “weird supermarket culture” is to blame for the current shortages of vegetables.

Few people know the workings of the food system better than Henry Dimbleby, founder of the Leon restaurant chain and government adviser and author of the radical National Food Strategy for England; he said Europe was not facing such issues because they did not have the same cultural problems.

Mr Dimbleby will appear in Buxton International Festival literary line-up on 13 July to discuss his new book, Ravenous: Why our appetite is killing us and the planet, and what we can do about it.

He hit the headlines earlier this month when he claimed Government ministers were “leaving food policy to Tesco”, and talking to large food chains rather than suppliers, who have been struggling with rising costs while locked into contracts with supermarkets.

He said: “There’s just this weird supermarket culture. A weird competitive dynamic that’s emerged in the UK, and nowhere else in the world has it, and I don’t know why that is.

“The UK food system is, I think, unique – I don’t know another system where the supermarkets have these fixed-price contracts with suppliers. So, basically, you have no effective market. It’s a very difficult one for the government to solve, but it does need to be resolved.”

Dimbleby’s new book, reviewed this week in The Guardian takes us behind the scenes of the modern diet and how the environmental damage done by the food system is also changing climate patterns and degrading the earth, risking our food security.  The food system is no longer simply a means of sustenance, it is one of the most successful, most innovative and most destructive industries on earth, and his new book, asks – what can be done?

Henry Dimbleby and Jemima Lewis appear at Buxton International Festival at Pavilion Arts Centre on 13 July 2023, 10am. Read more/bookings, go to:

Public booking opens on Tuesday 4 April 2023. Priority booking is available for the Friends of BIF. Click here to join for this benefit and a host of others.