Global food security starting to slide, report warns

Global food security is slipping according to an analysis of the affordability, availability, quality and safety of food supplies across 113 countries.

The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has published its annual Global Food Security Index (GFSI) which shows a fall in global food security over the past year, after four years of consecutive gains.

In general, while the quality and safety of the food produced has improved, affordability and access to food have declined in many countries.

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Factors include migration which is occurring at a rate many countries’ economies and infrastructure are struggling to deal with, rapid urbanisation, drought in sub-Saharan Africa and political instability.

Top spot

The report names Ireland as the country with the best food security score, knocking the US off the top spot.

Ireland has rebounded strongly from the Irish banking crisis of 2008-10 helped by consistently high levels of public sector investment in agriculture, it said.

Overall, the UK secured the number three spot in the food security league table.

However, when looking at quality and safety the UK was ranked at only number 21, with Portugal taking the top spot in this category.

Risk of Brexit

However, the report warned the UK’s rise, since 2012, to the number three spot on the food security league table was at risk because of Brexit.

The EIU is forecasting personal incomes in the UK will fall 6% throughout 2018 and the UK will be leaving the EU at a time when it relies on imported food more than any time in the past five decades.

“Once Britain leaves the EU, it will have to do without billions of pounds in subsidies under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, direct access to European markets and unrestricted access to cheap agricultural labourers from Europe,” it said.

Climate change

The report also highlights climate change and natural resource depletion could pose an even greater risk to food security over the longer term.

Rising temperatures could destroy crop yield gains made over the past century, with the threat of damaging weather events—torrential rainfalls, flooding or drought—and insect pests becoming more prevalent.

If the food security index adjusted to take into account climate change, natural resources and resilience then the UK falls from third place to joint fifth behind Ireland, Austria, France and the US.

“Facing up to these risks will require significant collaborative efforts by governments, the private sector, non-profit organisations and other stakeholders.”