Global food supply-chain issues call for solutions

Disruption in wheat trade can affect food security

While international trade allows countries to buffer against domestic food shortfalls and gain access to larger markets, what happens when supplies run short, or the global supply chain slows or even breaks down like it did during the pandemic?

A new University of California, Davis study sheds light on how trade, and centrality in the global wheat trade network, affect food security. The study shows that many countries depend on trade to fulfill their food needs. Further, the global wheat trade is concentrated in a handful of countries whereby disruption in only a few countries would have global impacts, researchers suggest.

Researchers used international wheat trade data to reconstruct the global trade network and identify the most influential countries. They found that countries most central to the global grain trade account for more than half of all wheat exports globally by volume: Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, Russia, the United States and Canada.

This makes the global wheat value chain vulnerable, as a shock to one of these countries is likely to propagate across the globe.

To correct the unbalanced structure of the trade network, researchers called in their study for more emphasis on regional and localized food systems, because well-functioning local food systems more effectively counter shortfalls and perturbations in the larger globalized food system.

Image credit- shutterstock

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