Food – Be Sustainable to be Resilient
For a long time, the hospitality sector in Ireland has felt secure about food. There has been a reliable supply of diverse, nutritious and affordable foods. Food sustainability has also been something of an optional extra, only coming more into focus as consumers start to place more value on it.
Recent times have been like a splash of cold water on a sleepy Irish face, however. As a country, like others, we’ve had a wake-up call. We have come to realise that we have taken food abundance for granted, that we may actually be quite vulnerable and exposed. The security of our food supply and the sustainability of our food production have come into sharp focus as a result.
There have been indications of food security issues for a while. Brexit brought transport issues, extreme weather events brought yield issues, below-cost selling in supermarkets brought competitiveness issues.We have seen the number of farms and farmers decrease.Those that thrive now are specialised, mainly in beef and dairy, which means there is not now enough diversity in our home production to shield us from external shocks.
However, even though the crisis is a long time in the making, it is Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine that have brought Ireland face-to- face with the idea of food shortage. “If the pandemic crippled the global supply chain, the war in Ukraine knocked it to its knees” Forbes proclaimed recently.
According to the Global Food Security Index of 2021, Ireland was the most food secure nation on the planet, based on the 4 drivers of food security: affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience. That was before a war between countries upon which we are massively dependent for cereals that feed our livestock and fertilisers that treat our land, a war that is leading to global price increases and frightening inflation.
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Read the full June / July 2022 Magazine Publication.