Coronavirus (Covid-19) is having huge impacts on the food system here in the UK and globally. It is bringing into sharp focus how and where our food is produced, processed and consumed. It has also highlighted a number of issues, including the:

  • Vulnerability of just-in-time systems, that in some cases stretch far beyond UK borders, to unpredictable shocks. It reminds us of past catastrophic events, such as foot and mouth in 2001 and the 2007-08 food price spikes;
  • Differentiated nature of impacts within agri-food (contrast retailer (multiples and independents) and food service experiences of the crisis, for example);
  • Labour shortages in the horticultural sector;
  • Number of vulnerable groups who are now more than ever before food insecure, given their dependency on food banks and charity and the significant socio-economic food inequalities in society;
  • Role of supermarkets in food provisioning (we have a private food governance model) and their role and responsibilities in responding to the crisis;
  • Role and importance of online retail, including, but not only, online supermarket retail;
  • Agility and ability (or not) of producers, processors, retailers and other food providers to adapt their supply chains to deliver food direct to households;
  • Need to re-localise food systems, rebuild regional processing infrastructure (abattoirs, wholesale markets) and shorten food chains to improve food system resilience;
  • Range of public, private and civic initiatives (at individual, industry and community levels) that have, and are still emerging, to respond to the crisis.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, it is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impacts, actions, activities and food policy lessons.

We hope that you will find this resource both interesting and useful, and welcome additional contributions to the resource list and our blog posts on this topic – please do get in touch.

We would also like to share with those who access this resource that our close colleagues at Pisa Agricultural Economics (PAGE) will also be publishing a series of blogs related to how the Covid-19 crisis could lead to more resilient food systems. The core research areas of PAGE of socio-economic research in agriculture, food, and rural development align closely with future developments in food systems post Covid-19. These blogs can be accessed on the PAGE website.

Resource Library

Uncertainty, the futilities of control and pragmatism:

Post-normal pandemics:

  • Post-normal science is an important concept to understand the Covid-19 response (generally and in relation to food system planning). This article is excellent  (accessed: 11.04.2020). It also links to the article below by Steve Hinchliffe in legitimising a more inclusive mix of expert and lay perspectives to manage the crisis. If you are on Twitter, give Silvio Funtowicz a follow.

Modelling, social science and animal health links:

Disaster resilience:

Human infectious disease and global population:

Past (and future?) studies of pandemics, including networked disease:

The irrelevance of the SDGs?:

Contexualising Coronavirus Geographically:

Metaphors:

Rural-urban relations:

The need for academic expertise across disciplines and beyond 'science':

The fruit and vegetable harvest, labour shortages and automation:

Feed The Nation campaign

  • Concordia is running a new Land Army-style ‘Feed The Nation’ campaign (20.04.2020)
  • Concordia coordinated a similar campaign in 1943 to recruit volunteers to feed the nation (volunteers were famously described as ‘The Land Army’). The new scheme needs 80,000 workers. The challenge will be to find the right people (particularly in terms of skills, because picking fruit and vegetables is skilled and increasingly specialist work).
  • Useful list of agencies that link workers with farms (20.04.2020).

Pick For Britain

  • There's now a dedicated 'Pick For Britain' website https://pickforbritain.org.uk/ for potential workers to visit to find out more re what it is like to work on fruit and veg farms, etc. (accessed 16.05.2020).

Labour shortages in New Zealand dairy:

Workers' Rights

Agri-food labour in the US (meat processing)

Humanitarian crisis in ag. commodity chains (Fairtrade Foundation):

 

 

 

  • Consumer behaviour evolution linked to the usual spending out of home (Kantar Worldpanel):

Dairy farming crisis and milk waste:

Hardship fund for dairy farmers

Artisan cheese producers:

Farmers as ‘hidden heroes’:

Valuing and supporting farmers:

Eat steak not mince! That was the message this weekend to support British meat producers:

Agri-food support packages:

Farming Health Hub: COVID-19 Support and Advice

Small-scale farmer incomes (global):

UK farmers with unwanted potatoes

Global supply chains:

EFRA inquiry - second public session on food insecurity:

Government announcement to support food charities:

Community responses:

School meals and school catering:

Reliance on EU food chains, Brexit and food security:

Other resources and articles (media, academic):

The need for basic income support not food charity:

Covid-19 expert database, including responses re. food:

Food policy co-ordination:

Mapping unhealthy food commodity industry responses:

A more critical relocalisation perspective:

Agroecology:

Food system organisations:

Food, farming and the rural economy:

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee:

Meat and food processing plants (the US and Germany):

Independent meat processors

Supply chain vulnerability

Concerns about food fraud

Big food brands moving online