Image: Michael Schmidt

Schmidt’s project, titled ‘Lebensmittel’ (translates as ‘food stuff’), included images of factory farms and slaughterhouses, as well as close-ups of food such as fish heads, apples and packaged mince.

The project comprised 60 photographs taken between 2006 and 2010. Schmidt’s prize was 100,000 Swiss francs (just over £66,000).

The theme of this year’s prize was ‘Consumption’. Schmidt was selected from a shortlist of eleven artists, and was awarded the prize at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Wednesday.

Chris Dercon, Director of the Tate Modern, accepted the award on behalf of Schmidt, who was unable to attend due to illness.

Dercon accepts the prize on Schmidt’s behalf. Image: Ben Pruchnie

The announcement was made by Honorary President Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, who said, ‘The shortlisted artists have made powerful images that ought to persuade governments, businesses – and each of us as individual consumers – of the need for a fundamental rethink of the principles on which present-day affluence is founded.’

The remainder of the shortlist included artists from the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, China, Ukraine, Belgium and Nigeria.

Other projects included Adam Bartos exploring yard sales in the United States, Motoyuki Daifu’s photography of his own family in japan, and Mishka Henner’s large-scale satellite images of landscapes impacted by production of beef and oil in North America.

Sir David King, Chair of the Judges and the UK’s special representative for climate change, said, ‘We were privileged to review work by eleven truly outstanding photographers.’

‘There were many potential winners but, after much debate, we finally agreed to award the Prix Pictet to Michael Schmidt whose Lebensmittel is an epic and hugely topical investigation into the ways in which we feed ourselves.’

Image: Michael Schmidt

Schmidt’s images and those of the other shortlisted photographers will be on display in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum until June 14, 2014.