The United Nations (Food and Agriculture) Organization (FAO) recently published information on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on food and agriculture. They are presented in more detail in the form of questions and answers, some of them are presented below. The questions below were selected by foodfakty.pl:
Will COVID-19 have a negative impact on global food security?
The food crisis is possible unless rapid action is taken to protect the most sensitive issues, maintain global food supply chains and mitigate the effects of a pandemic throughout the entire food system.
Closure of borders, quarantine and disruption of the market, supply chain and trade can limit people's access to sufficient / diverse and nutritious food sources, especially in countries severely affected by the virus or already affected by a high level of food insecurity.
However, panic is not recommended. There is enough food for everyone around the world. Policy makers around the world must be careful not to reproduce the mistakes made during the food crisis of 2007–2008 and transform this health crisis into a completely unavoidable food crisis.
At present, disruptions are minimal because food supply was sufficient and markets were stable so far. However, we are already seeing challenges in terms of logistic bottlenecks (the inability to move food from point A to point B) and probably produce less food with high commodity value (i.e. fruit and vegetables).
From April / May, we can expect disruptions in the food supply chains. For example, movement restrictions, as well as basic aversive behavior on the part of employees, can make it difficult for farmers to process farming, and for food processors - who deal with the vast majority of agricultural products - to process. Deficiency of fertilizers, veterinary medicines and other measures may affect agricultural production. Restaurant closures and less frequent grocery purchases reduce the demand for fresh fishery products and products, affecting producers and suppliers. The sectors of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture are particularly affected by restrictions on tourism, the closing of restaurants and catering establishments.
In each scenario, the poorest and most vulnerable population groups (including migrants, displaced persons and conflict-affected leadership) will be most affected.
What are the consequences of the COVID-19 situation - now and in the future - for food production, supply chains and agricultural products, fisheries / aquaculture?
The food supply chain is a complex network that covers producers, consumers, agricultural and fishery contributions, processing and storage, transport and marketing, etc. As the virus spreads and the number of cases increases and the measures tightened to limit its spread, feeding systems at all levels will be strained in the coming weeks and months.
In the fisheries and aquaculture sector, the consequences can vary and be quite complex. In the case of wild fisheries, the inability of fishing vessels to operate (due to limited or market collapse, as well as sanitary measures difficult to comply on board) may generate a domino effect in the supply chain of products in general and the availability of certain species. In addition, for wild fisheries and aquaculture, logistical problems related to transport restrictions, closing of borders and reduced demand in restaurants and hotels can cause significant changes in the market - affecting prices.
However, we are already seeing logistics challenges including food flow (the inability to transfer food from A to B) and the impact of a pandemic on the livestock sector due to limited access to animal feed and slaughterhouses, reduced production capacity (due to logistical constraints and shortages labor force) similar to the situation in China.
Blocking transport routes is a particular obstacle to fresh food supply chains and can also lead to increased levels of food loss and waste. Fresh fish and aquatic products that are perishable and therefore must be sold, processed or stored for a relatively limited time are particularly at risk.
Rapid price increases are not expected for basic items in which supply, stocks and production are capital intensive, but it is more likely that prices for high-value goods, especially meat and fish and perishable goods, can be very short-lived. increase. On the other hand, where production is available and demand is falling, as in some fisheries, prices are also expected to fall.
How will a pandemic affect food demand?
The 2008 financial crisis has shown what can happen when reduced income and uncertainty cause people to spend less, which reduces demand. Sales fell. Just like production. In addition, those most affected were forced to return to negative coping strategies - such as selling productive assets, a less varied diet to compensate for income constraints.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, demand increased significantly. Food demand is generally inelastic and its impact on overall consumption is likely to be limited, although dietary patterns may change. There is a possibility of a disproportionately greater decrease in animal protein intake (as a result of concerns - not based on scientific knowledge - that animals may be carriers of the virus and other higher-value products such as fish, fruit and vegetables). These concerns may be particularly true for raw fish products supplied to restaurants and hotels, including small and medium-sized enterprises.
The demand for food in poorer countries is more related to income, and here the loss of earning opportunities can affect consumption.
Fear of infection can translate into a reduction in the number of visits to stores. Expect to change the way people buy and consume food - less restaurant traffic, increased e-commerce delivery, and increased consumption at home.
Measures affecting the free movement of persons, such as seasonal workers, can affect food production and thus affect market prices around the world.
Measures guaranteeing acceptable health standards in food factories can slow down production.
Other questions: http://www.fao.org/2019-ncov/q-and-a/en/