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‘Our industry is broken’ say experts at Produced in Kent food forum 

15 May 2024
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Headline speakers on a panel at Produced in Kent’s Future Food Forum gave a damning indictment on the state of the current food system and the proliferation of ultra-processed foods (UPFs).

The annual event took place at the University of Kent Business School in Canterbury and brought together independent food and drink businesses, sector specialists, and representatives from industry and local government.

Keynote speakers for the forum, titled ‘What does the consumer want?’, included Kimberley Wilson – a psychologist, nutritionist and bestselling author of Unprocessed: How the Food We Eat is Fuelling our Mental Health Crisis – and Sheila Dillon – a multi-award-winning British food journalist, broadcaster and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme.

Kimberley urged delegates to be angry about the fact that poor nutrition from UPFs is fuelling our mental health and obesity crisis and called for ‘a legislative body that will take this seriously and is not being influenced by the big food corporations’.

Sheila added that our current food system is leading to a health and environment disaster.

She called out the corrupt traffic light system that allows a UPF snack bar to have green lights across the board, while a pack of almonds has red.

David Edwards, deputy chair of the Food Farming Countryside Commission, called for a grassroots approach to inclusive and sustainable food policies.

And Tessa Stuart, managing director of consumer research firm Asset Research, agreed that UK customers are too used to cheap food, which impacts consumer choice – leading more people to choose ultra-processed foods over fresh produce.

Susie Warran-Smith, CEO of Produced in Kent, said: “We’ve reached a critical crossroads in the food sector, and we absolutely need to be having these conversations.

“This is where organisations like ours, representing the local independent food and drink sector, can help to drive change.

“Our members hold the key to a better future for food in this country as consumers seek transparency and demand better quality food.”


Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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