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External supply risks in the context of food security: An index borrowed from the energy security literature

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Carmen Hubbard, Dr Lionel Hubbard


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In recent years many countries have become increasingly concerned about food security. Concern was heightened by the sudden and sharp increase in world food prices in 2007–08, but additionally other factors are now adjudged to pose a threat, such as climate change, oil shortages, increased use of biofuels, rapidly growing demand in China and India, embargos and international terrorism. This article focuses on one aspect of overall food security, that of external supply risks. It highlights an interesting parallel between the food security debate and that of security of energy supplies, and offers a quantitative assessment of the risks associated with external food supplies through application of an index borrowed from the recent literature on energy security. The index accounts for risks associated with (i) the number of supplying countries, (ii) the political and economic situation in each of these, and (iii) import dependency. A worked example for the UK, using bilateral trade data for the period 1988–2010, shows that values of the index are very low with no clear trend. Consequently, external supply risks are not high with respect to food imports into the UK and do not warrant alarm or undue concern.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hubbard LJ; Hubbard C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: EuroChoices

Year: 2014

Volume: 13

Issue: 2

Pages: 30-35

Print publication date: 07/08/2014

ISSN (print): 1478-0917

ISSN (electronic): 1746-692X

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/1746-692X.12060


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