He continues: "If retailers can compete on something other than price, there is an opportunity to reward growers on factors other than yield. This could include, for example, taste, which creates a premium product, or resilience to adverse weather, which would assure continuity of supply.
The government's food and farming report showed that although the UK has a strong science base with the potential to develop sustainability metrics the knowledge was too fragmented and it often failed to coherently address the real problems faced by the industry.
From that understanding came the idea of 'virtual centres', such as Agrimetrics, that would pull together work from different institutes and universities and create a roadmap for realising the vision of sustainable intensification of commercial food production.
"I was in at the beginning of Agrimetrics and when the opportunity came to be more closely involved, I took it," says Lawrence who also believes that Government has a role in rewarding producers for sustainable practice.
"If we leave the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) there is a opening for a model that would recompense producers for measures that look after soil health, environmental health and biodiversity in a way that CAP set out to do, but in practice does not."
Agrimetrics is creating a big data platform to support the agri-food industry. It is pulling together publicly funded datasets to improve access to existing information and adding value through improved tools.
By working closely with specialists from NIAB, Rothamsted Research, Scotland's Rural College and the University of Reading and securing clients at all stages of the value chain to create a set of metrics that are based on good science and accepted by industry.
CEO David Flanders says that Agrimetrics is gaining momentum. "This is a unique opportunity and an ambitious goal. If the UK was at the forefront of the science and led by example, this expertise would create a valuable revenue stream for Britain."