Small businesses have big role in food security

SMEs account for 97 per cent of enterprises in the UK food system.


Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) played a key role in maintaining the resilience of the UK’s food system during Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Now they could continue to contribute to greater UK food security by collaborating with larger players in the industry, according to research by SRUC in partnership with sustainability advisers 3Keel.

The briefing note How can SMEs enhance resilience of the UK food system?, published by the Resilience of the UK Food System in a Global Context research programme, looked at SMEs’ ability to innovate, create neutral spaces for collaboration, and their potential to hedge risk in the food system.

SMEs constitute around 97 per cent of enterprises in the UK food system and collaboration with major players could bring about positive change.

Universities could boost SME innovation and collaboration across the food system, including with larger food businesses and government. In turn, large businesses have capacity to support SMEs within their supply chains, and promote resilience, and governments can provide support by making infrastructure investments and restructuring research grants.

Professor Mark Reed, Co-Director of SRUC’s Thriving Natural Capital Challenge Centre and a member of the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Commission, said: “SMEs have the potential to be catalytic players, convening and unlocking innovation in food business and academic partnerships.

“This innovation is critical for the future resilience of the food system, and it is one of the things that SMEs are best at, despite not having the research and development budgets of the big players and receiving little support from the academic research community.

“Future research funding needs to recognise this strength and catalyse more collaborations between the academic researchers and SMEs to generate the kinds of innovations necessary to transform the food system, as it transitions to net zero.”

Posted by SRUC on 17/05/2022

Tags: Food and Drink
Categories: Research