Chokepoints and vulnerabilities in global food trade

By Rob Bailey; Laura Wellesley

Trade chokepoints – maritime, coastal and inland – pose an underexplored and growing risk to global food security. Maritime chokepoints will become increasingly integral to meeting global food supply as population growth, shifting dietary preferences, bioenergy expansion and slowing improvements in crop yields drive up demand for imported grain. Rising trade volumes, increasing dependence on imports among food-deficit countries, underinvestment, weak governance, climate change and emerging disruptive hazards together make chokepoint disruptions – both small-scale and large-scale – increasingly likely. Climate change will have a compounding effect on chokepoint risk, increasing the probability of both isolated and multiple concurrent weather-induced disturbances. Investment in infrastructure lags demand growth: critical networks in major crop-producing regions are weak and ageing, and extra capacity is urgently needed.

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