A new report released by Public Health Wales has warned of the potential impact Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change could have on food security in Wales.
The document is one in a series of PHW reports that highlight how this “triple challenge” could affect the future health and well-being of the population.
Focusing on key areas of food availability and affordability, the report says the onset of the pandemic has highlighted the effects that consumer behavior can have on food supplies, as panic buying and storage pushed the food supply into a volatile situation.
The newspaper also warns that the panic buying exposed the UK’s over-reliance on ‘just-in-time’ deliveries and imported food and other goods.
Despite little evidence that food supply chains are significantly affected by the current ‘triple challenge’, during the pandemic, constraints on transporting particular types of food to market have restricted supply, as items such as that fruits and vegetables transported by air have suffered disruption due to a combination of the withdrawal from the EU and the pandemic have been exacerbated by a shortage of truck drivers, the report notes.
Further, it states that climate change has highlighted additional challenges for the food supply in the short and long term, with extreme weather events potentially affecting global food production, trade and supply chains, making prices that are more volatile and / or affect productivity in the long term.
The report concluded that, combined with Brexit and the potential impact of climate change, the importance of shorter supply chains for maintaining food security has been revealed by the pandemic which also has the capacity to disrupt food chains. global supply. For example, cereal-exporting countries could reduce their level of exports or be affected by the shortage of combines, which could cause a crisis in countries heavily dependent on these products and shortages in others like the Kingdom. -United.
Liz Green, public health, policy and international health consultant at Public Health Wales, and one of the report’s authors said: “The whole population is affected by food security to some extent, but food groups vulnerable population will be particularly affected, low income, women, families with children, farmers, fishermen and those living in disadvantaged areas.
‘The Triple Challenge has already and will continue to have major, multifaceted and inequitable impacts on population groups across Wales, which has highlighted the need to address this issue and explore it further. . The three fundamental pillars of food security include the availability, access and use of food.
She added: “Wales does not have its own separate food system. It is shaped by broader international, national and local policies such as trade, economics and environmental sustainability which interact in complex and multidimensional ways and present a series of “unknown unknowns” for policymakers and health and The well-being.
“However, the current situation offers an opportunity for Wales and the UK to rethink food policy and food supply, including looking at ways that will be good for environmental sustainability, for example, of supply chains shorter could mean less packaging, processing and food miles and could increase the importance of Welsh farmers in the UK food system.
Evidence suggests this may have an impact on diet and health behaviors as people adjust to purchasing more seasonal and locally produced foods.