Leon co-founder says government needs to 'subsidise the cost of healthy foods for people in poverty'

18 April 2023, 20:00

Henry Dimbleby insists government should subsidise the costs of healthy foods for people in poverty

By Jenny Medlicott

The government's ex-food adviser says it's vital ministers subsidise the cost of healthy food for those in poverty and make it more expensive for companies to put unhealthy ingredients in their products.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Henry Dimbleby, who stepped down as the government's food tsar last month and co-founded health fast-food chain Leon, told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr that healthy foods need to be made more accessible for poorer people.

Andrew asked Mr Dimbleby: "Can you see a future in which government would subsidise the cost of basic foods like potatoes, cheese and milk and raise the price on the highly processed, mechanically produced foods?"

Henry replied: "Yes and no, while inequality is what it is, you have to subside the cost of those healthy foods for people that are in poverty."

However, he went on to say that this type of move should be a "directed target" that only applies to the poorest in society, rather than everyone.

Mr Dimbleby also spoke about his previous suggestions to the government on how to reduce the amount of unhealthy ingredients in the products on our store shelves.

"I recommended a reformulation tax on sugar and salt," he said.

"Which makes it more expensive for companies to put the bad stuff in the processed food."

The price of essential products, such as cheese, have increased by up to 80% in the last year.
The price of essential products, such as cheese, have increased by up to 80% in the last year. Picture: Getty images

Food prices in the UK have risen by up to 80% in the last year, raising questions as to how those struggling can afford to put meals on the table.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the new pre-payment meters code of practice

Read more: Ofgem bans forced installation of pre-pay meters for over-85s - with installation of devices a 'last resort'

Basic food products, such as skimmed milk and cheddar cheese went up by 35.5% and 28.3% respectively in the last year, according to a consumer survey from Which?, which analysed the rise of food inflation.

Sue Davies, the head of food policy at Which?, said: "Our latest supermarket food and drink tracker paints a bleak picture for the millions of households already skipping meals of how inflation is impacting prices on supermarket shelves, with the poorest once again feeling the brunt of the cost of living crisis.

"While the whole food chain affects prices, supermarkets have the power to do more to support people who are struggling, including ensuring everyone has easy access to basic, affordable food ranges at a store near them, particularly in areas where people are most in need."

Data from Labour also found the wholesale prices of everyday fruit and vegetables, such as carrots, cauliflowers and tomatoes, went up by 80%, 161% and 142% respectively.

Mr Dimbleby said that he decided to step down from his role as an adviser for the government because he felt it was "going backwards" on health-related policies.