Food Systems Institute
Transforming food systems to meet global challenges
We will strengthen Nottingham’s reputation as the only UK university offering research expertise and capabilities across the food system.
We bring together researchers from across disciplines and work with industry and policymakers to deliver solutions to transform the food system, from production and processing, through to transport, consumption and waste.
Our mission is to ensure access to palatable, healthy and sustainable food for all, while protecting and regenerating the Earth’s natural resources in the face of climate change.
The establishment of the University of Nottingham Food Systems Institute comes at a critical moment. Food production has outstripped a growing global population, dramatically reducing hunger. However, that bounty has come with a cost, contributing to deforestation and biodiversity loss as well as rising obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.
The food system is wildly complex and needs a more holistic, coordinated approach to these challenges. Our vision is to rethink how food is farmed, processed, transported and consumed and to develop new technological and economic models that drive positive change.
By enabling transdisciplinary research, the Food Systems Institute will allow experts to share knowledge and insights and secure a future where sustainable food production feeds the world, preserves our natural resources and protects the delicate balance of our planet.
- Jack Bobo, Director, the University of Nottingham Food Systems Institute
Jack A. Bobo’s career spans international law, food and environmental policy and behavioural science. He joined the University of Nottingham from The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s largest conservation organisations, and previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Futurity, a food foresight company; as Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice-President for Global Policy at Intrexon Corporation, a synthetic biology company; and as Senior Advisor for Global Food Policy at the US Department of State.
We will address challenges in three key areas:
Risks and vulnerabilities in the food system
Food supplies are threatened by extreme weather, diminishing water supplies and geopolitical instability, such as the war in Ukraine. How can we make out food system less fragile and more resilient?
Sustainable livelihoods across the value chain
Our food system is inequitable, concentrating value with food manufacturers and retailers. How can we ensure the economics of food are fairer, with health and sustainability at its heart?
Food insecurity and diet-related ill health
More than 800 million people on the planet are undernourished, while obesity rates are rocketing. Poor diet is the highest risk factor for death among adults globally. How can we reduce this toll on health?
Our Sutton Bonington Campus has been the focus for agriculture and food research since 1893 and is currently home to the 445-hectare University Farm, the School of Biosciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. Our University Park and Jubilee campuses host disciplinary expertise ranging from social sciences and humanities to physical sciences, life sciences, engineering and medical sciences. Our food systems expertise also stretches to our international campuses in Malaysia and China. Over the past two decades our campuses have seen sustained investment and development of world-class facilities:
2006 Vet School (first established in UK for 50 years)
2007 BBSRC/EPSRC Centre for Integrative Plant Biology
2011 BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre. The Bioenergy and Brewing Science Building opens, including an industry
ready food processing facility and pilot brewery
2013 EPSRC Centre in Innovative Manufacturing in Food
2014 The Hounsfield Facility, a multidisciplinary imaging and research centre, offering unprecedented insights into plant-soil interactions
2016 Nottingham BBSRC Wheat Research Centre
2017 Future Food Beacon, a £14m investment from the university in global food security research
2018 The Centre for Dairy Science Innovation, part of the Innovate UK Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock
2019 Future Food Malaysia
2022 Centre for Smart Food Research at the University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus and the opening of ÆDNA, a facility to analyse ancient and environmental DNA
In order to spark positive change, improvements are needed across the whole of the food system and value chain. Our research, advocacy and engagement takes in every link of the food chain:
Our advances in biology, plant and crop science, soils, veterinary medicine and animal health and data-driven modelling will contribute to more environmentally-friendly agricultural production.
Our expertise encompasses food structures, flavour, alternative proteins, microbiology, materials and low carbon energy and technologies, ensuring food is sustainably processed and safe to eat.
By bringing together innovators in commercial law, public procurement, uncertain data, marketing, information systems and operations management, we will improve livelihoods for people working in all parts of the food system.
Our research into how people choose and consume their food and how these impact our health, spans early life nutrition, micronutrients and biochemistry, physiology, neuroscience, digestive health and marketing.
Our research into food material structures, waste management, wastewater treatment and reuse, sustainable design, predictive analytics and sensing technologies will contribute to reducing food waste and increasing recycling in the food system.