Global food experts coming to Liverpool to discuss how we feed our growing population

More than 80 expert speakers will take part in the event – N8 AgriFood International Conference 2018 – being held at the Hilton Hotel and organised by the Universities of Liverpool and York. Tony McDonough reports

Professor Jonathan Rushton
Jonathan Rushton, professor of Animal Health and Food Systems Economics, Epidemiology and Population Health at the University of Liverpool


How we continue to feed a growing global population over the coming decade will be high on the agenda at a major conference coming to Liverpool this month.

More than 80 expert speakers will take part in the event – N8 AgriFood International Conference 2018: ‘People, Health and Food Systems, challenges and solutions for 2030 – at the city’s Hilton Hotel on June 13 and 14.

Hosted by the Universities of Liverpool and York, the conference will attract some of the brightest minds in the sector to discuss the most pressing challenges facing the future of global food security.

Companies and organisations taking part include Pepsico, Waitrose, Co-op, Nestle, The Real Junk Food Project, Farm Urban, DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency.

Biggest issues

Conference speakers will discuss some of the biggest issues facing the sector including food poverty, changing consumer behaviour, food waste and bio-economies, new technologies, food safety and resilience in supply chains and urban and vertical farming.

The impact of Brexit will also be addressed in a keynote speech from Professor The Lord Trees, the renowned veterinary surgeon and academic and chair of the Moredun Research Institute which conducts research into diseases of farm livestock and the promotion of animal health and welfare.

Food security

Jonathan Rushton, professor of Animal Health and Food Systems Economics (N8 chair) Epidemiology and Population Health at the University of Liverpool, said: “Food security – the provision of sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, produced in a sustainable, resilient and equitable manner – can no longer focus just on agriculture.

Thinking and action is required across the whole food system in all its complexity and on the influences of food systems on public health and consumption.

Hilton Hotel
The Hilton Hotel in Liverpool city centre


There is also a need to examine how contextual changes, such as Brexit, will affect the outcomes of the food system and how N8 AgriFood and its collaborators can prepare for these changes.

Further work is also needed to understand how the food system has an impact on the environment, the space in which we live, and how transformations beyond the farm gate can drive shifts in sustainability.”

Ideas exchange

The conference, attracting experts from around the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the US, will result in an “unprecedented exchange of ideas”, the forging of new partnerships, as well as showcasing innovation across the agri-food sector.

The annual conference is organised by the N8 AgriFood Programme, part of the N8 Research Partnership, which aims to maximise the impact of research expertise from the eight most research intensive universities in the North of England: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.

Its purpose is to promote collaboration, establish innovative research capabilities and drive economic growth.

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