Implications of COVID-19 for UK food supply resilience

Think tank: Chatham House

Author(s): Richard King; Laura Wellesley; Dr Helen Harwatt; Professor Tim Benton

December 2, 2021

This report from UK think tank Chatham House looks at risks to food and nutrition security during and after the pandemic.

Since its onset, the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of food systems around the world. The impacts of this unprecedented global event on food and nutrition security had the potential to be extraordinarily diverse: risks triggered in one region could potentially cascade through complex, interrelated food supply networks and cause nutrition insecurity among populations elsewhere. The UK is a major trader of food and drink items. Its food-related industries were preparing for significant change even before the pandemic, due to Brexit. These dynamics have complicated supply-chain resilience during the pandemic. This paper assesses the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s interactions with the global food system, based on a risk assessment conducted iteratively from mid-2020 to mid-2021. It considers how nutrition security has been, and will continue to be, affected by the international impacts of the crisis, and how post-COVID food systems could be more equitable, sustainable and resilient.