„This capitalist miracle reflects not a monolithic plan, but an $8trn global supply chain adapting to a new reality, with millions of firms making spontaneous decisions, from switching rice suppliers in Asia to refitting freezers. The system is far from perfect: as incomes collapse, more people are going hungry. There are risks, from labour shortages to bad harvests. And there is an irony in seeing the industry grapple with a crisis that probably began with the sale of pangolin meat in a market in Wuhan. But the food network is so far passing a severe test. It is crucial that, during and after the pandemic, governments do not lurch into a misguided campaign for self-reliance.”
The economists points to the systems adaptation to severe circumstances with the maintenance of food supplies and help of latest harvest and high stocks. The crisis in 2007-2008 showed that government protection may bring „devastating consequences”. This time exports ban related to food industry touches 5% of goods as opposed to 19% back then. Many shops altered the proportions in their distribution channels – examples are Amazon, whose grocery e-commerce capacity rose by 60% or Walmart who increased their staff by over 100 000 people.
It is emphasized, however, that it is not over yet. With shortage of pork supply to American slaughterhouses, growth in wild turkey hunting licencing, problems with harvest workforce (Europe and America will need more than 1mln workers from countries like Mexico, north Africa or east Europe). With the economy shrinking, many people may suffer shoratges of food and this may provoke introduction of extreme solutions – bad decisions might backfire though and deepen the crisis instead of bringing relief.
„Governments need to hold their nerve and keep the world’s food system open for business. That means letting produce cross borders, offering visas and health checks to migrant workers, and helping the poor by giving them cash, not stockpiling. It also means guarding against further industry concentration which could grow, if weaker food firms go bust or are bought by bigger ones. And it means making the system more transparent, traceable and accountable—with, for example, certification and quality standards—so that diseases are less likely to jump undetected from animal to human.”
To read the full article visit: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/05/09/the-global-food-supply-chain-is-passing-a-severe-test
source: The Economist