The COVID-19 pandemic draws attention to vulnerabilities in the global food system

Agriculture Food industry and trade Food security Labour market Supply chain food processing

Several months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the global food system has performed better than first anticipated. While some large food producing countries threatened to curtail exports in the early stages of the pandemic, they have largely refrained from doing so. Rising food insecurity is mainly due to the rapid and severe economic shock that has affected every region of the world. The pandemic has drawn attention to some major weaknesses in aspects of the modern food system, however, such as: working conditions, labour laws and the consolidation and lessening of competition in some segments of the food supply chain. Addressing those weaknesses would help to create a fairer, more resilient and ultimately more secure food supply system.

Key points:

  • In the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the largest food exporting countries considered placing barriers on the international trade of food. They have generally refrained from doing so, however, which has helped to maintain the global food supply.
  • Disruptions to global logistics networks, agricultural labour markets and food processing plants could make it difficult to distribute that food to where it is needed.
  • Every region of the world has seen a significant increase in food insecurity, mainly as a result of the sharp economic shock and rapid rise in unemployment associated with the pandemic.
  • Global food insecurity is unlikely to rise significantly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has, however, presented a perfect time for countries to evaluate the vulnerability of their food supply chain and devise policies to strengthen it.
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