Our Research

How Do Young People Perceive and Value the Agri-Food Industry? A research project exploring the often assumed disconnect and disinterest between young people and the agri-food industry.

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As part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring young people have a voice in the future development of the agri-food industry, we have delivered the largest piece of youth engagement research to date.

Working with McDonalds UK and The School of Sustainable Food and Farming, we wanted to find out how young people (12-19 year olds) perceive the agri-food industry. We focused on four key themes: Sustainable Food Production, Conscious Consumers, Diversity and Inclusivity, and Careers.

We have relied on quantitative and qualitative data collected through initial research with over 2,200 young people from across the UK, followed by in-depth discussions with almost 200 young people on-farm at LEAF Demonstration Farm, Elveden Estate and during a two-day residential event held at Harper Adams University. Based on the research findings, we Recommended next steps for each theme.

The young people working alongside LEAF Education Specialists, Harper Adams Senior Lecturers and McDonald's Progressive Young Farmers have identified clear and ambitious actions for the agri-food industry to deliver.

View the full research report setting out the findings and key recommendations here:

Research timeline:

The research follows on from LEAF Education’s first piece of pioneering research in 2018 with 1,200 young people across the UK, which provided valuable insights into how they perceive the agri-food industry and their awareness of the career opportunities in the sector. 66% of the young people taking part in the research said they would be keen to enter the agri-food industry but only 4% had received information about how to do that.

The results of this initial research led to young people becoming actively involved in shaping LEAF Education's strategic direction. Around 40% of our work now involves secondary age students. Here are just some of the initiatives we have developed following this initial research:

National Competition for 14 to 16-year-olds

Now in its sixth year, the National Competition offers 14 to 16 year olds the opportunity to experience a hands-on weekend farm experience. Some 66% of those taking part in the 2022 competition, went on to study at a land based college or university.

Network of Demonstration Schools

A network of LEAF Education Demonstration Schools showcasing best practice examples of using food production, farming and the countryside as a core element of the school curriculum. Currently there are 16 Demonstration Schools across England.

Farming Fortnight’ an annual celebration of farming in schools:

A two-week immersion into the world of farming and food production for primary and secondary schools across the UK, offering a wide range of engaging and informative national curriculum linked resources and materials.

Careers

We actively encourage the agri-food industry to engage with young people of 12 and above. LEAF Education Specialists deliver a programme of activities in school and on farm (rather than solely at career events held in exhibition spaces), highlighting the many skilled and varied career opportunities in the agri-food industry. For example, #FarmMyFood is an annual event held on farm, bringing together businesses, food producers and career specialists, attended by hundreds of GCSE students.

Photography credit: Harper Adams

Over the next five years, LEAF will work with agri-industry leaders, brands and retailers to deliver the recommendations identified in this research. We will act as a powerful catalyst for change to ensure we come together as an industry to develop an ambitious and far reaching programme of events, initiatives and outreach activities that promote our industry as a place of opportunity, innovation and significance in addressing the climate crisis.

How will you support this work?

Please tell us how you plan to help and support this essential work as we come together to ensure a sustainable future for the agri-food industry.