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New report warns of ‘triple challenge’ to food security in Wales

24 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
Photo by Boris Dunand on Unsplash

A new report published by Public Health Wales has warned of the potential impact Brexit, the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change could have on food security in Wales.

The paper forms part of a series of reports from PHW that highlight how this “triple challenge” could affect the future health and wellbeing of the population.

Focusing on the key areas of food availability and accessibility, the report says the outset of the pandemic highlighted the effects that consumer behaviour can have on food supplies as panic buying and stockpiling pushed food supplies towards an unstable situation.

The paper also warns that panic buying exposed the UK’s over reliance of ‘just in time’ deliveries and imported food and other products.

Despite little evidence of food supply chains being dramatically affected by the “triple challenge” currently, during the pandemic, constraints on the transport of particular types of food to market restricted supply as items such as airfreighted fruit and vegetables have experienced disruption as a combination of the EU withdrawal and the pandemic has been exacerbated by a shortage of HGV drivers, the report notes.

In addition, it says climate change has highlighted additional challenges for food supply in both the short and long term, with extreme weather events having the potential to affect global food production, trade and supply chains, making prices more volatile and / or altering productivity in the long-term.

Climate change

The report concluded that combined with Brexit and the potential impact of climate change, the importance of shorter supply chains to maintain food security has been revealed by the pandemic which also has the ability to disrupt global supply chains. For example, cereal exporting countries could reduce their level of exports, or be affected by lack of harvesters and this could cause a crisis in countries heavily reliant on this produce and shortages in others such as the UK

Liz Green, Consultant in Public Health, Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales, and one of the report’s authors said: “The whole population is affected by food security to some degree, but vulnerable population groups will be particularly impacted negatively including those on low incomes, women, families with children, farmers, fishers and those who live in areas of deprivation.

“The Triple Challenge has already, and will continue to have, major, multifaceted and inequitable impacts on population groups across Wales which has highlighted the need to address this issue and explore it in more depth. The three core pillars of food security comprise of availability, access and utilisation of food.”

She added: “Wales does not have its own separate food system. It is shaped by wider international, national and local policies such as trade, the economy and environmental sustainability which interact in a complex and multidimensional way and present a series of ‘unknown unknowns’ for policy makers and health and wellbeing.

“However the present situation provides an opportunity for Wales and the UK to rethink food policy and supply including looking at ways which will be good for environmental sustainability, for example, shorter supply chains could mean less packaging, processing and reduced food miles and could strengthen the importance of Welsh farmers in the UK food system.

Evidence suggests this may have a knock-on impact on diet and health behaviours as people adapt to buying more seasonal and locally produced food.”

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Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Break the strangle hold supermarkets have over the food industry from farm to plate and everybody will benefit, except the share holders,

Archibald Blenkinsopp
Archibald Blenkinsopp
1 month ago

Well I recall the days when supermarkets were a rarity. It was not good for shoppers or shops come to that. I dislike the power supermarkets have, but who on earth would be in a position to support corner shops again? As high quality niche market vendors they are fine, a bit like Tebay services on the M6, but those wanting adequate produce used to have the supermarkets to rely on before Brexit. I suppose those in North wales are lucky, only 55 miles away if you take the Holyhead ferry, there is quality food, no chlorine, no hormones, no… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Absolutely correct. Brexit has shown what an amoral leadership and an uninformed voter base can achieve between them. We’ll soon be issued with ration books. As I write this there is a cookery programme on TV talking about all manner of spices and exotic items but down at the local supermarket you can’t rely on getting a loaf of bread. The sooner Wales can get out of this disfunctional “union” the better for all of us.

Robert Williams
Robert Williams
1 month ago

“…the importance of shorter supply chains to maintain food security…’ – I suppose that’s why the Westminster government is so keen to import our food from Australia and New Zealand while stifling and inhibiting its production in the UK?

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

We need to rely less on foodstuffs that are shipped hundreds or thousands of miles from source. And that should include ingredients. Supermarkets went global in pursuit of profits and now even green people insist on eating stuff shipped in from afar. Our direct and indirect carbon footprint would reduce by eating home grown or home produced.

Same goes for engineered manufactured products. Make them here instead of exporting the carbon footprint to China and getting all moralistic about cutting our pollution but blaming the Chinese for their toxicity ! Current UK behaviours are illogical.

Archibald Blenkinsopp
Archibald Blenkinsopp
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

That’s very idealistic! We led the world in Engineering, I started work in the early seventies and there was none of this political garbage about investment in training and education, they just went ahead and did it. Technical schools geared for industry and providing a sound education. Colleges staffed by perhaps not the brightest and best in some instances, but excellent sources of training and containing lecturers that despite their fallbacks were not just in it for the cash. Maggie screwed all that, Bozo is jumping on the bandwaggon with his porkies and soundbites, but it will not happen. It… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

You sound as though you are accepting things as they are and unwilling to countenance a radical reshaping, including reshaping our perceptions of what can be achieved. Globalisation really bit 20 years ago so we might need 20 years to roll back some of its most damaging consequences. It will need training and education to get more people to recognise the value of career choices that add value. The wholesale growth of law and accountancy for example is a blot on our society as it does little other than add to our rule making/bending and score keeping capacities. Maybe idealistic… Read more »

Archibald Blenkinsopp
Archibald Blenkinsopp
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I cannot disagree with anything you say. Globalisation makes sense, no country can exist in isolation without severe penalties. Like everything though, it’s a matter of finding the correct balance. I have looked on the vast multitudes of people that do nothing productive, they are accountants trying to get the tax take down for their clients and others that simply move other peoples money around for a living, then there are the marketing people that dream up better ways to peddle dross. We need Engineers and scientists to make progress, something that no UK government will ever see unless the… Read more »

Robin Lynn
Robin Lynn
1 month ago

Given the consensus around shortening supply chains what do we do about London bankers buying Welsh farms to plant them with trees to off-set their carbon footprints?

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Robin Lynn

Another example of the moronic logic prevalent in business and government. It does nothing to reduce the aggregate carbon footprint just shifts it around. Gestures of people who think they can fool us.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Robin Lynn

Did you know back in the 70’s and early 80’s people like Terry Wogan & other overpaid celebrities owned thousands of acres of forestry in Wales due to the tax avoidance it enabled, now we still have rich outsiders owning our land, just for a different reason. What’s the saying “different day, same old sh*t”

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