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.
  • Science for a Proper Recovery: Post-Normal, not New Normal (great piece by Jerome R. Ravetz in Issues in Science and Technology, spelling out why Covid-19 is post-normal; nice link to resilience thinking too (system robustness)) (20.062020).

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


The psychology of 'together apart'

Academic expertise - across disciplines and beyond 'science'

Rural-urban relations and the foundational economy

Digitalisation of rural areas

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 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 (New Zealand dairy, Costa Rican coffee):

Workers' Rights

Agri-food labour in the US (meat processing, harvested crops)

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:

Vending machines, direct selling and networked dairy farm models

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:

Covid-19 and UK-EU trade talks (Brexit)

Agri-food support packages:

Farming Health Hub: COVID-19 Support and Advice

Covid-19 is a demand rather than a supply shock?

Small-scale farmer incomes (global):

UK farmers with unwanted potatoes

Digitalisation of agriculture

Global supply chains and market systems:

EFRA inquiry - second public session on food insecurity:

Government announcement to support food charities:

Community responses:

School meals and school catering:

Legal action to secure school meals over the summer months

  • Sustain and Good Law project have threatended the Government with legal proceedings to secure school meals after they announced they would not extend the school meal voucher scheme over the summer months (06.06.2020).

Free summer school meals and Marcus Rashford-led campaign

Other devolved nations re. extending school meals through the summer:

Reliance on EU food chains, Brexit and food security:

Other resources and articles (media, academic):

The need for basic income support not food charity:

Hacking food chains and food system innovations

Food Policy Councils
  • Video from the Johns Hopkins Center reports on ways food policy councils in the US are shifting their strategies to address increased food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Case studies from Montgomery County Food Council (Maryland), the Dubuque County Food Policy Council (Iowa), and the Detroit Food Policy Council (Michigan) (13.06.2020).

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

Food policy co-ordination:

Mapping unhealthy food commodity industry responses:

Shortening supply chains (regional resilience)

A more critical relocalisation perspective:


Covid dashboard (Europe)

Food system organisations:

Food, farming and the rural economy:

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

Meat & food processing plants (USA, Germany, France, UK, the Netherlands):

Not just meat!

  • New outbreak data from @CDPHE shows growth in COVID-19 cases throughout food processing in the US (-140+ new cases at Greeley JBS; + outbreaks at Ft Morgan’s Cargill, Leprino’s cheese plants and new outbreaks at commercial bakeries) [thanks to Melanie DuPuis for this link, via Twitter] (20.06.2020).

Independent meat processors

Supply chain vulnerability

Concerns about food fraud

Trade in high-value horticultural exports (Kenya to European supermarkets)

Big food brands moving online