Food Security

I don’t know if this is the right Category for it, or what tags should be added.

A place to discuss food security, its causes and mitigations / solutions and anything else that seems relevant.

Brexit and Covid have had a big impact on supply chain issues with many items missing from the shelves. The guy who runs the local shop was telling that Booker (the wholesaler, owned by Tesco) has been telling him to stock up now for Christmas. But there’s whole sections of shelves empty, so he can’t.

As I understand it shortages are partly caused by running a supply chain with very little slack. At least for supermarkets. They’re run this way to save money and no doubt consumers benefit from this. So will the companies’ profits, not only by direct cost cutting, but lower prices are good to keep the customers coming to you rather than competitors. The current circumstances appear to be exposing the risks in squeezing every last drop out of a system. One solution to this is not treating food production and supply as something out of which you can extract profit, but how to get there, I don’t know.

There are also ways in which climate is affecting the amount of food available. Canada is a very important producer of wheat and its harvest this year is the worst in 14 years due to drought. In East Anglia I saw very large areas of crops flattened due to unusually heavy rain a couple of weeks ago. Things like that are going to affect the supply and so price of food:

Given that the number of people in food poverty in this country is ridiculous for a wealthy nation, this is going to be awful.

At home we’ve been looking at ways of becoming more resilient with a variety of things including food. I personally take this to mean not just supply but preparation, preservation and storage. Whilst this is good and nice, it feels quite inward looking, doesn’t in itself do anything outside our home and I’m keenly aware that whilst we have the luxury of time and money to put into it not everyone does. So I’m extremely interested in discussing ways to bring things like food security into the hands of local communities. Does anyone have any stories of food co-ops or skill shares that have worked well or ways in which they didn’t work? Or anything else.

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I know very little about this and it does interest me.

Isn’t inflation at a macro level becoming a pretty big risk with the presumed price rises too?

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Just started noticing shortages this last week. Can’t get bottled water in sainos or Tesco’s in town.

I don’t really understand how it works but table 1 on here seems to suggest food accounts for 8.9% of the inflation score

https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/articles/ukconsumerpriceinflationbasketofgoodsandservices/2021

I think energy prices would have a bigger impact but they’re going up too so :grimacing:

Energy prices are crazy at the moment. Like 50% increase on previous fixed rates. Couple that with inflated food prices. Gonna be a LOT of people struggling.

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The only chicken they had in the big Asda were big 1kg sacks of on-the-bone thighs for £1.90, which is in terms of pure mass a chicken surplus if anything

Yes, it is

I think bottled water is both relatively cheap and really heavy compared to other products, so if there’s a shortage of delivery drivers or warehouse staff it’ll be the first thing they leave off the lorry.

Hopefully there’s not an actual shortage of potable water yet in Britain although probs not far off

The political impact of a “British” water shortage given how England takes water from Wales is definitely a topic for discussion in here

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There are one-off factors in today’s inflation figure, knocking on from last year, mainly eat out to help out and temporary VAT cuts, although genuine increases in global transport and shipping costs are also in there.

Well yes certainly, but the supply of fresh water is rapidly becoming a global concern too, and by global I don’t mean there’s poor countries that nobody ever talks about who are running short of water, I mean there are water stresses coming to every country in the world in the near future.

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Energy price rises are going up massively next month as well.
Prices are rising in restaurants as well which makes the eat out to help out anomaly a bit skewed.

US inflation is steady at 5% and china’s building sector is fucked. I think we’re in for a big economic shock before the end of the year.

Yeah. Usually the way to try to take a view is to look at the influences that are structural, and it’s certainly not a stretch to suggest that energy cost increases, logisitics cost increases and food production cost increases are structural and potentially long term.

Been wondering a bit on the whole “supermarket shelves” thing. I’m certainly no expert on just in time processes, but I suspect nothing fundamental has changed that now makes it permanently impractical to implement them. I suspect those issues are temporary, will ease with the lessening impact of Covid and some boosting to the logistics workforce post the Brexit worker loss. Although the latter will cost (all of us) it just has to be done, so it probably will. Heard news this morning about driver wages increasing by up to 60% and some earning £40K+, which are probably hype, but even if vaguely true that’s a labour shortage that will get filled eventually.

I’m also not totally convinced by theories about certain products being “first in line”, if only because my experience is that different products are vanishing at different times from the shelves. My best guess would just be that overall deliveries are lower and as a result sometimes by chance some things run out because they haven’t been delivered lately.

I don’t mean to be snarky, but of course if it became impossible to obtain bottled water in the UK in perpetuity then we would all adjust quite adequately and quickly. And just like in my childhood I think people would also get used to buying what’s available in terms of fresh produce and stocking more medium/long term staples if and when they come to the shelves.

That of course raises the much more serious issues, which are poverty in this country as a result of rising prices and the impossibility of the poor to maintain stockpiles of things in their own homes, and of course the bigger issue of global poverty and food security. And then there’s resource shortage conflicts…

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The guy from the shop did say that he’d been told the driver shortage was sorted but because of the time it takes to get training / work permits or whatever it wouldn’t be in time for Christmas. I hope that when things are less stretched some serious action is taken to put some resilience back into the system.

On the subject of water security, M has been looking into harvesting rainwater. Does anyone have any experience with or thoughts on this?

Offspring I (8) asked me about this exact thing on Monday - is this part of the curriculum?

Ooh, I don’t know, G (also 8) hasn’t said, but I don’t suppose they’d do it in the same order everywhere would they?

This is a thing we signed up to watch (I missed it at the time)

This looks good - cheers :+1:

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