Centre for Food Policy Research
  1. PhD students
Food Policy

Kelly Parsons

PhD work

Constructing a National Food Policy: policy integration and co-ordination pathways and challenges in Australia and the UK.


  • 2012-present: PhD Candidate, Centre for Food Policy (City, University of London)
  • 2009-2012: Project Officer, Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming
  • 2010-2011: MSc Food and Nutrition Policy (City University London). Awarded the Worshipful Company of Cooks Dissertation Prize
  • 1997-2010 Journalist specialising in law and policy and - more recently - food law, policy, and sustainable food.  Former correspondent for the Informa journal EU Food Law
  • 1994-1997: BSc (Hons) Sociology (London School of Economics and Political Science). Awarded the Hobhouse Memorial Prize for academic achievement

The study

Food has a rising policy profile across the globe, and in developed countries has attracted increasing policy attention and proposed reform. The widespread national reforms to food safety policy in the 1990s have been followed more recently by the rising priorities of the environment and public health impacts of food production and consumption, and the security and sustainability of the food supply.

Two examples of national attempts to formulate a policy response to these emerging priorities are the UK and Australia. In 2008, the UK Cabinet Office introduced the Food Matters report followed by the Food 2030 strategy vision. In 2010 the incumbent Australian government committed to developing a National Food Plan, aimed at 'recognising the wide range of work already occurring on food issues and bringing this together in one place'.

As in the UK, official statements from the Australian national government presaging the National Food Plan stressed the needs for a food policy that would lead to improved health and environmental outcomes and secure a more sustainable food supply. However, similar challenges to those characterising the UK experience - of joining up both the competing interests of governmental departments and at the wider stakeholder level and operating within a multi level governance frame - are emerging.

The research will investigate the challenges of constructing a national food policy, by comparing approaches taken in the UK and Australia, with the aim of providing critical theoretical reflection and empirical evidence into the extent to which institutional pathways (path dependencies) shape policy formulation and policy outcome in relation to the roles that political, economic and social interests play in these processes.

It will theorise the challenges of integrating a food policy across a range of established policy sectors with their own existing policy priorities, policy networks and client interest groups.

Why it matters for food policy

The research is aimed at improving understanding of policymaking dynamics and their application to the food policy sector.  It will shed light on current attempts to develop a 'whole of government' approach to food, by examining who influences the policymaking process and how, whether and how the status quo is maintained in policy terms, to what degree new pathways and modes of operation are able to be established and by what means, and the challenges of ensuring food policies and strategies are successfully implemented once formulated.


Numerous articles covering international food regulation and policy developments related to: labelling, safety, trade, agriculture, sustainability, advertising, supply chain, nutrition and food security.

Research interests

National food policies, governance, advocacy and lobbying, nutrition policy, the role of science in food policymaking, sustainable food and diets.