The outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan and the subsequent spread to over 180 countries has had a devastating impact on the lives of billions of people.
New phrases like “social distancing” have become commonplace and people are embarking on a new way of life. Everything we have taken for granted seems a distant memory and a realization of what is important has dawned on us.
Many countries and cities are or have been in total lockdown. Businesses, schools, universities and non- essential activities are closed. Only critically important industries are operating. The scope of the economic and social impacts of the pandemic is still unclear, but one thing is certain: it will be severe.
There are several factors that we can consider when we try to understand the influence of this pandemic on food security. The following points can be made:
The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the business supply chain and global dependence on a single supply market. This is true for both agriculture supply needs as well as for food in general.
Firstly, a movement away from global supply chains to more self-sustainable production might be on the cards for countries, cities, communities and even households.
This will likely create a shortened supply chain, and a greater awareness regarding the farm to table concept. Consumers will start to support local businesses. The concept of ‘producing and buying locally’ will grow. With this, however, we may observe an increase in prices for foodstuffs.
We can expect that consumers will start to focus on healthier eating, and this will impact on the demand for certain produce. This means that restaurants and take-away establishments will face an uphill battle as consumers become acutely aware of food preparation, hygiene and nutrition.
Furthermore, packaging and display options will change. We have already seen the end of open fridges in retail food stores.
However, the export of foods will still play a role during the off season and outside certain production areas.
Lastly, technology and automation will play a bigger role in developed agriculture sectors in order to meet rising local demands.
With this in mind, we can pinpoint some opportunities for business, and therefore economic growth. The following opportunities might be worth exploring as we move into post-pandemic agriculture: