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Lit review poster for City conference FINAL.pdf (553.97 kB)

An early warning system for food supply chain resilience to environmental disruption: Literature review

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We rely on effective food supply chains for food security, and while risks to them due to natural disasters have always existed, environmental disruption is increasing. We carried out in-depth literature review with four objectives. The first two objectives were: to review 1) the objectives, components and process of, and 2) the concept of resilience, in food supply chains. Objective 3) was to review the characteristics of environmental disruptions that impact supply chains; and objective 4) to examine the potential role of early warning systems for food supply chain resilience.

Our results show that:

1. food supply chains are complex and interconnected. Many supply chain actors take on multiple roles. Theoretical modelling of supply chains to predict vulnerability is therefore a challenge.

2. The resilience of UK food supply chains is contested, as is the concept of resilience. However, there are some guiding principles that inform a consideration of resilience in this context.

3. The characteristics of environmental disruptions make predictions of their impact on food supply chains a challenge. Disruptive events at a variety of spatial scales can cascade through supply chains in non-linear ways. To improve understanding of their impact, a better understanding of supply chains is required.

4. Existing early warning systems focus on predicting rapid-onset disruptions to minimise direct harm, rather than wider resulting impacts. An early warning system for food supply chain resilience would benefit from a clear objective for resilience, identification of potential disruptions, increased understanding of how they can impact food supply chains, and appropriate response mechanisms.

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