Implications of COVID-19 for UK food supply resilience

Risks to food and nutrition security during and after the pandemic
Research paper Updated 18 January 2022 Published 2 December 2021 ISBN: 978 1 78413 502 7
Aerial view of an airfield surrounded by open countryside and stacked with hundreds of parked lorries

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.