Blog: Global Risks Report offers food for thought

Chris Mercer | 8 January 2013

Volatile food commodity prices and the spectre of food and water shortages remain uncomfortably high in the latest annual Global Risks Report.

Each year, the Global Risks Report quantifies risks to global wellbeing and security. It is published by the World Economic Forum in co-ordination with several insurance and risks analysis companies, including Marsh & McLennan, and is based on a survey of around 1,000 experts from industry, government, civil society and academia worldwide.

In 2013, some of the most acute risks highlighted by the report represent a whole series of interconnected challenges that have the potential to affect the food industry.

These include volatile prices for agricultural food commodities, physical food shortages and stress on water supplies, within the broader key risks of environmental deterioration and income disparity.

Moreover, the report says our ability to tackle some of the medium and long-term challenges, in particular those relating to climate change, are being "sapped" by persistent economic weakness and strains on the global financial system.

Although the report is broad in scope, it nevertheless underlines the need for food companies and trade bodies to press ahead with plans to improve resilience throughout the food supply chain.

However, the industry cannot do everything by itself. There is a case here for greater advocacy by the food sector at the national and supranational level in order to increase awareness and planning around a sustainable and secure food system.

In the UK, the current Coalition Government has yet to update or endorse early food strategy documents devised by its predecessor. It is in everyone's interest for that to be rectified.


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