Sustainable food system under threat

25 November 20213 min reading

Covid-19 and climate change, which threaten the food system, will have a multifaceted impact on the dangers that affect food safety and food security. For a quick solution, reviewing food and agricultural policies and cooperating at the multinational level and in an interdisciplinary manner is a must.

Dr. Yeşim Ekinci
Yeditepe Üniversity

According to the United Nations (UN) reports, the rate of malnutrition, which was 8.4 percent in 2019, increased to 9.9 percent in 2020. Overall, more than 2.3 billion people—30 percent of the world's population— were deprived of access to adequate food throughout the year, the UN report says. The number of people experiencing hunger or malnutrition rose by 118 million up to approximately 768 million in 2020 due to the pandemic. 


With the occasion of October 16, World Food Day, the food system under the influence of Covid-19 and climate change will become more of an issue.

The human population is estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050. This raises substantial concern about a safe and sustainable food supply. The weather conditions created by climate change threaten food production, security, stability, access to food, nutrition, and environmental sustainability. He pointed out that hunger rates that increase due to climate change are combined with the Covid-19 pandemic and increased even more. 


Although there is no data that Covid-19 is transmitted through food, the pandemic process has affected the functioning of the entire food system including production and consumption. The Covid-19 pandemic has also brought the security gap of food production and control systems to the fore in many food-related issues such as hygiene, antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases, climate change, and food fraud. 

Covid-19 has also posed an unprecedented challenge to the food system, causing food loss and waste. Stockpiling, shortages of supply and price increases led to reduced demand and disruption of the food supply. Many countries have faced high food price inflation in the retail space due to ongoing supply disruptions in connection with the Covid-19 social distancing measures, currency devaluations, and other factors. Rising food prices have affected people in low- and middle-income countries, who spend most of their income on food, more than those in rich countries. 


Since 1961, the per capita food supply has increased by more than 30 percent. The number of people experiencing food insecurity is expected to double due to Covid-19, climate shocks, locust outbreaks, and armed conflicts that threaten the food system. The countries affected by this process had to reconsider and change their food and agriculture policies to ensure that food supplies remain affordable and available to the public.


National foodborne incidents can quickly cause international emergencies. This makes the need for multinational and interdisciplinary (agriculture, health, environment, trade, trade) cooperation very important. Real-time efforts on food security will help countries build resilience over the long term. Covid-19 has brought about a major shift in the way people think about the system, as well as the food system. It revealed the need to redesign the way we produce and distribute food, how to make the global food system more flexible, and to ensure that everyone has access to quality food.

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