According to experts, protecting the UK’s food supply chain from fraud and cyber attack should be the focus of a new ‘centre of excellence’.
The challenge emerged at the latest Let’s Grow workshop which saw leaders working across the food supply chain meet at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) to discuss the future of rural business and communities.
The group, chaired by RAU’s VC, Prof Joanna Price, heard the findings of consultant Martin Collison, who was commissioned by the Agriculture, Food and Rural Business Group of GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to analyse the value of farming, food and drink in Gloucestershire.
Mr Collison found potential for the county, already the home of GCHQ, to lead in digital security in the supply of food: “As the food chain goes online the cyber security issue comes to the fore. Gloucestershire has the chance to grasp this.”
Cheltenham Cyber Park provides a clear head-start in this area, aligned to the fact that food supply chain jobs, local produce and expertise in universities are strongly represented in the county.
He added: “The digital world is coming very fast – in the way we buy and sell and with robotics and automation changing how food is produced. It’s important that the consumer understands where food comes from and everything that goes into that. Once that goes online there is a major risk around cyber security. This is a global need.”