How the Coronavirus Is Challenging Global Food Supply Chains

How the Coronavirus Is Challenging Global Food Supply Chains
A grocery store worker restocks shelves, Dallas, Texas, April 13, 2020 (AP photo by LM Otero).

One of the many challenges facing governments and businesses during a disaster is ensuring the steady supply of food and other essential items. People’s natural impulses to stock up in preparation for shortages often kick in at the same time that complex supply chains are coming under immense strain. Add to this the direct impacts of COVID-19 on workers in the food industry and the export restrictions on agricultural products that some governments have put into place to ensure that their own populations stay well-fed, and you’ve potentially got the makings of a looming food security crisis.

Robyn Metcalfe, a food historian at the University of Texas at Austin, has documented how cutting-edge technologies are altering food supply chains around the world, most recently in her book, “Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales from the Logistics of Eating.” For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, she joins WPR’s Elliot Waldman for a conversation about how global food supply chains are adapting during the coronavirus pandemic, and how they might look very different as a result of the crisis.

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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