Supply chains, coronavirus and the food dilemma

March 23, 2020

Supply chains, coronavirus and the food dilemma

 

In the past few weeks, the rapid spread of coronavirus (covid-19) has impacted human health and simultaneously disrupted the global economy. The coronavirus started in China, before spreading to Europe and the Middle East, and has now become a full-fledged pandemic. As people take shelter in their homes, governments around the world are striving to control and mitigate the spread of the illness.

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This massive current event puts a spotlight on one of our faculty members, Dr. Evan Fraser. In a recent article for The Conversation, Fraser looks at the potential for phenomena like covid-19 to disrupt global supply chains. Fraser points out that the covid perturbation has revealed a clear weakness, or lack of resilience, in our food supply system.  Since our food system has evolved to be extremely efficient, turning over new supply items exactly when they are needed and not a moment earlier, this market based system “balance” appears incapable under stress. In a sense, Fraser has pointed out a paradox of market efficiency. Anyone shopping can see that we have been increasingly confronted with empty grocery store shelves as the crisis unfolds. With disruptions in supply chains having the potential to cause food shortages, Fraser discusses how the current moment highlights the general need to get more of our food locally. Fraser further argues that, while the covid-19 pandemic will eventually pass, this moment should also alert citizens to how supply chains might be further disrupted by phenoma like climate change, which again underscores the need for more regionalized food sources.

Check out Dr. Fraser’s article in the link below, which provides an example of how researchers at the Biodiversity Resilience Network are grappling with urgent contemporary issues:

https://theconversation.com/ca/topics/food-supply-5312