Global Food Security
International trade plays a critical role in global food security, with global consumption having highly localized environmental impacts. It has been difficult to gain insights into these effects due to the diversity of food production, and complexity of supply chains in international trade. We present a Spatially-explicit Multi-Regional Input-Output (SMRIO) model which couples primary crops and livestock at a high spatial resolution with a global Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) model. We then identify hotspots (the most significant production regions) for primary crops and livestock driven by international consumption. We present the method and data behind this approach, and provide illustrative case studies for Indonesian palm oil and Brazilian soy and beef production. Regionally, China is the largest primary crop consumer, while the EU28 is the largest livestock consumer. Primary crops and livestock hotspots are highly unequal, and the embodied primary crops and livestock for high-income countries are distributed over larger areas when compared to lower-income countries since high-income countries have more numerous trade links. Identified hotspots could allow for increased cooperation between consumers (high-income countries) and producers (lower-income countries) to improve sustainability programs for global food security.
International food assistance reaches more than 90 million people per year, much of it through in-kind programs that distribute food. Several key aspects of in-kind programs—what food is shipped, when and from where it is sourced—have been changed to improve program effectiveness and efficiency, becoming helpful tools in the modernized in-kind food assistance toolbox. Packaging—in what food is shipped—remains an unstudied and underused tool despite more than 50 million bags per year passing through in-kind supply chains, affecting program effectiveness and efficiency. We conduct an experiment with 46 shipments using different packaging materials and sizes to measure the effect of packaging on shipment quality, cost, and timeliness. Analyzing the data with randomization tests, we find that, relative to the current materials, new materials maintain shipment quality and cost while improving timeliness and in some cases may reduce cost. One promising material that balances cost and effectiveness is a bag with a biopesticide applied, designed to prevent insects from reproducing. We also find that, relative to the current size, larger bags may improve costs at least in the domestic portion of the supply chain. Donors and their partners should consider packaging as one more tool in the modernized food assistance toolbox. As the toolbox continues to fill, the coming opportunity and challenge to identify situations where the various tools work in complementary ways.