August 2023

Birmingham Food System Strategy outlining transformation of city’s food system revealed to hospitality sector

By Carrie Mok

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The Birmingham Food System Strategy, which has been formed with consultations among city-wide stakeholders including Birmingham College of Food, was recently presented to the hospitality sector at the Catering Hospitality Education Forum (C.H.E.F).

Founded by Tonic Talent and with meetings throughout the year, last month’s C.H.E.F was held at x+why 103 Colmore Row where the Birmingham Food System Strategy’s vision, ambition and key principles for a bolder, healthier and more sustainable food system in the city were introduced to chefs, business owners and back-of-house staff within the local hospitality industry for the first time.

Opening with a keynote from Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health with Lewis Walker, Deputy Head of The Birmingham College of Food at University College Birmingham then leading discussions, the free event also explored how the strategy was formed from projects across the city.

This included consultations with stakeholders across the hospitality sector aiming to transform the food system and grow the Birmingham food revolution, including Birmingham College of Food.

Collective power of change

University College Birmingham launched Creative Dinners as part of its work on the Food System Strategy, a series of debate-style dining experiences at the University’s very own training restaurant. The Dinners aim to bring together diverse, inspiring and innovative trailblazers from across Birmingham, the UK and around the world to have conversations on key subjects affecting the food system and spark the collective power of change through collaboration.

The institution has also been working with the Food System Team in Public Health at Birmingham City Council as part of the Food System Strategy to create a new innovative Centre for Urban Food. This draws together intelligence from a wide range of industry partners, local communities and educational providers across the region to help raise awareness of challenges.

"Creating a healthy, affordable, delicious and diverse food system in Birmingham will take a partnership and working with food businesses and organisations is fundamental to creating a thriving and economically sustainable food economy."

Dr Justin Varney Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council

Dr Justin Varney added: "These businesses and organisations are at the heart of what makes Birmingham a great city to live, work and play in. They are economically vital to the City and working with C.H.E.F to connect them into the strategy and its implementation as we move forward is essential to making the vision for a better future for food industry."

These topics have been key to the Food System Strategy’s work streams focusing on food production connectivity, sustainable sourcing, food offer and diet transformation. Other work streams in the Strategy include minimising food waste and unsustainable packaging, facilitating a thriving local food economy and maximising training and employment, and improving food safety and standards within the city.

Conrad Brunton, Managing Director of Tonic Talent, said: "We are delighted that Birmingham City Council chose our C.H.E.F networking event to launch the Birmingham Food System Strategy publicly. I would like to thank George and his team at x+why for hosting the event and Justin for personally attending and delivering the keynotes. I am certain everyone who attended found the topic fascinating, and I look forward to speaking to people to learn how they have engaged with it."

Lewis Walker, Deputy Head of Birmingham College of Food at University College Birmingham said: “It was fantastic to bring the Food System Strategy to Birmingham’s thriving and vibrant hospitality sector and facilitate conversations around how the city can support and enhance the food revolution. This vital work brings together so many facets of the local food culture and I’m incredibly proud and excited that The Birmingham College of Food are able to work so closely in raising its profile.”

Passionate about working within the food industry? Discover our courses in our course A-Z or find out more about our Birmingham College of Food.


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