How extreme weather is sending shockwaves through F&B

How extreme weather is sending shockwaves through F&B

Food production has a close relationship with the weather. Most crops thrive in specific growing conditions, but extreme weather events are causing shocks – severely affecting crop yields, and disrupting the availability of food in regions around the world. And livestock management, too, is dependent on predictable weather conditions to enable high quality care and nutrition. 

As reported by NASA, weather events including floods, droughts, and heat waves are increasing in frequency and intensity. High temperatures at night have affected crucial corn yields across the US corn growing regions, and warm winter weather across countries is causing crops to bud early – so the plants don’t survive.  

With climate change, we can expect an increase in the frequency of heavy rain, and this also has a serious impact on crop growth. It erodes soil and depletes soil nutrients, so farmers have to battle against difficult growing conditions. 

How severe could the impact of extreme weather events be?

Extreme weather events and warming temperatures are driving a chain reaction of events that have the potential to lead to severe food and water shortages. And the concerns are not hypothetical. Over the last year, we’ve seen: 

  • Up to 90% of citrus fruit grown by fruit farmers in Florida’s Gulf coast counties ripped off the trees by intense winds and rain. As a result, the state’s orange production was down by approximately 32% from the previous season.
  • Scorched cereal crops across Europe, as a heatwave disrupted normal growing conditions.
  • Severely diminished wheat yields in India, and rice production in Indonesia, as a result of extreme heat.
  • Corn and rice crops in northern China were destroyed by heavy rains – and in June alone, China’s Henan province lost over 20 million tonnes of wheat. 

It’s a pattern around the world: normal food production is suffering a serious impact as a result of unpredictable and extreme weather. As a result, F&B companies have to rethink their strategies and operations; and it’s likely that weather conditions will reshape food production, distribution, and consumer behaviour into the future. 

How is the F&B industry responding? 

As a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, the F&B industry is under increasing pressure to expedite its transition to sustainable practices. And at the same time, there’s growing pressure to innovate in order to protect food security – and business stability – in the face of unpredictable weather conditions. 

The stability of the world’s food system depends on the agility and innovation of F&B. 

We’re seeing F&B businesses of all sizes (from fledgling startups to established incumbents) implementing strategies including: 

  • Holistic corporate climate reduction strategies and sustainability initiatives. Addressing the root cause of extreme weather, and F&B’s contribution to it, companies are working to reduce their emissions in order to increase the resilience of food systems.
  • Innovative and out-of-the-box product development. Innovative product advancements could help consumers adapt to extreme weather events and global warming – helping to prepare communities for sustainable food consumption in the coming years.
  • Innovations in resilience and agility. Food producers are adapting to changes in growing seasons, along with unpredictable rainfall patterns and disruptions in the availability of raw materials and the quality of growing conditions. Resilience means being prepared – so companies are working hard to predict shifts in product availability and customer demand as a result of extreme weather.
  • Investing in novel food production solutions. From lab-grown meat to vertical farms, and precision agriculture to digital twin monitoring, farmers and technologists are exploring innovative ways to produce food in challenging conditions. 

Conditions are not easy. But the F&B industry is adaptable – with industry leaders and entrepreneurs developing new solutions to protect food security in spite of an increasingly unpredictable environment. 

Register now to attend InFlavour 2024 happening from October 1-3 at Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center (RFECC).

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