COVID-19 and Food Systems – Database

During April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began unfolding in the UK, CCRI’s Damian Maye became aware of extensive coverage detailing how food systems both in the UK and globally were being affected. In response to this, he began collating items in a range of forms (newspaper articles, research papers, blogs, etc.) relating to food systems and how they were being impacted.

Since then this has grown into a substantial collection of documents, as new items are collected and added on a weekly basis. Consequently, the CCRI has now created a database that currently holds around 1500 items (May 2021) and will continue to expand. This will enable the tracking of food system impacts and our collective responses.

All of the documents are categorised, meaning that the database can be filtered to help users navigate and pinpoint more specific topics. This can be downloaded as a CSV file.

The collation of this material has brought into sharp focus how and where our food is produced, processed and consumed. We also believe that it has also highlighted a number of issues, including the:

  • Vulnerability of just-in-time systems, that in some cases stretch far beyond UK borders, to unpredictable shocks. It reminds us of past catastrophic events, such as foot and mouth in 2001 and the 2007-08 food price spikes;
  • Differentiated nature of impacts within agri-food (contrast retailer (multiples and independents) and food service experiences of the crisis, for example);Labour shortages in the horticultural sector;
  • Number of vulnerable groups who are now more than ever before food insecure, given their dependency on food banks and charity and the significant socio-economic food inequalities in society;
  • Role of supermarkets in food provisioning (we have a private food governance model) and their role and responsibilities in responding to the crisis;
  • Role and importance of online retail, including, but not only, online supermarket retail;
  • Agility and ability (or not) of producers, processors, retailers and other food providers to adapt their supply chains to deliver food direct to households;
  • Need to re-localise food systems, rebuild regional processing infrastructure (abattoirs, wholesale markets) and shorten food chains to improve food system resilience;
  • Range of public, private and civic initiatives (at individual, industry and community levels) that have, and are still emerging, to respond to the crisis.

Use the filters and search functions below to locate items of interest.

A request for those using the database

The material and resources presented within this database is provided under a ‘Creative Commons Licence’. We request that users of the Database adhere to the CC BY-NC Licence, which allows re-users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for non-commercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.

We hope that you will find this resource both interesting and useful, and welcome additional contributions to the resource list and our blog posts on this topic – please do get in touch with Professor Damian Maye.

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