In recent years, the concept of resilience has been extensively used in a variety of fields, but not always consistently or holistically.

The aim of the paper is to theorize systematically resilience as an analytical concept as it applies to food systems research. To do this, the authors engage with and seek to extend current understandings of resilience across different disciplines. Accordingly, they begin by exploring the different ways in which the concept of resilience is understood and used in current academic and practitioner literatures – both as a general concept and as applied specifically to food systems research. They show that the social-ecological perspective, rooted in an appreciation of the complexity of systems, carries significant analytical potential. They first underline what they mean by the food system and relate their understanding of this term to those commonly found in the extant food studies literature.

This concept is applied to the specific case of the UK. Four subsystems at which ‘resilient food systems’ can be applied are distinguished. These are, namely, the agro-food system; the value chain; the retail-consumption nexus; and the governance and regulatory framework. On the basis of this conceptualization, an interdisciplinary research agenda is provided, using the case of the UK to illustrate the sorts of research questions and innovative methodologies that the food systems resilience approach is designed to promote.