Knowledge for better food systems

Why a Food Policy is needed – report by Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy

The report Towards a Food Policy by the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), an independent think-tank for the Dutch government, assesses the consequences for the Netherlands of the international developments around the food supply system and food consumption patterns. 

The Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of agrifood products (including substantial transit trade) and is home to major international agrifood companies and to several international agrifood research institutes. Contributing ten percent of GDP, the agrifood sector is a major factor in the Dutch economy.

Dutch national food policy has earlier primarily been aimed at increasing agricultural productivity, both for export and domestic consumption. Additional efforts have been made at both national and EU level to address new policy challenges such as environmental issues, animal welfare and rural affairs but the traditional focus has remained. Given that the world of food has changed and because this area is facing substantial challenges that also concern the Netherlands, the report authors argue that there is a need for a reorientation of policy. This report therefore tries to expand the analysis, and based on its conclusions, the scientific council WRR advises the Dutch government to develop a comprehensive food policy that is responsive to global challenges and that creates a resilient food system.


Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (WRR) (2015) Towards a Food Policy: Synopsis of WRR-Report no. 93. The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy. The Hague, Netherlands.

Read the report here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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