Did you know that last year, global food prices increased the most they had done in a decade? As the world becomes more populous, we need more food than ever to sustain us. But do you know how fragile that supply is? Dale Harris investigates.
There are a number of factors that influence supply and demand. Read on as we discuss the global food supply and its influencing factors.
Changes in the global climate can have a huge impact on food production. In fact, with temperatures rising by 0.2 degrees Celsius every ten years, we are already experiencing huge changes and upheaval.
The obvious reaction to this is drought. However, higher temperatures also mean that rainfall is increasing in many areas while decreasing in others. This means that crops that once thrived in a certain area, may not be able to grow there at all in the future.
Conflict and Political Instability
When war occurs, many resources are diverted to fight a war effort. Food production may turn inward, feeding troops or those at home. In many cases, it stops altogether.
Farmers are sent to fight, so people are not available to tend the land. Crops can be destroyed during fighting. They can even be used as a weapon, getting cut off and held as a bargaining tool or power move.
Pests and Disease
There are a number of pests and diseases that can damage or destroy crops. Microorganisms like viruses, fungi, and bacteria can spread quickly through crop populations. In addition, threats above ground like insects can also impact crop yield.
The response to this is to use pesticides and chemicals to protect crops. However, this brings with it its own set of problems.
Runoff from pesticides can cause environmental damage. A lack of food for insects damages the food chain, impacting the ability of the ecosystem to pollinate naturally.
As the climate changes, new threats and pests are emerging that global food manufacturing must deal with.
Technology is having a huge impact on the global food industry. Everything from machinery to increasingly efficient fertilizer is being used to help boost the food supply chain. Improvements in understanding the chemical makeup of soil has meant that analysis can provide better solutions to areas that are struggling to grow certain crops.
It is not just environmental factors on land that impact global food production. Drops in marine life through overfishing and pollution have meant that fishing yields are less than before. The introduction of protected areas and no-fishing zones has also meant that the price of seafood has risen.
Managing Global Food Supply Risk
The truth is that many global food supply factors are something you can not control. You can mitigate risks by having reserve suppliers and buying closer to home. However, often these costs just have to be taken into account.