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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Viruses, economics and self sufficiency

It’s time we learned a few home truths from all this

Covid-19 is still an unknown enemy. We have no idea where it’s headed, how it might mutate and how many deaths there will be globally before it’s managed effectively and a reliable vaccine is developed. That is worrying enough but very little has been said about the economic impact it will have both in China and across the world.

JCB announced that it is cutting working hours for 4000 employees

Unfortunately, 25% of its Chinese suppliers are still closed. China is Nestle’s second biggest market and I guess it’s inevitable that some impact will be felt in the coming months. It’s a catastrophe like this that demonstrates how symbiotic food production has become. We may well want to be an independent trading nation but we rely on so many other places for the goods that form part of our way of life.

Does that mean therefore that we should reappraise how we live and reconsider how trading behaviours might be amended?

After all, isn’t diversification a sensible way to manage risk and stop over reliance on one supplier, one type of technology or one location? Technology is impacting on rural farms for example that cannot compete with agri-business production. Do we need to amend our shopping habits and see what we can do to support the backbone of our country that is British farming? That doesn’t mean that I think we should lol be out threshing the corn by hand or milking in the fields but we never know when locally produced, traditional and sustainable food might save us.

The coronavirus has underscored the extent of our connectivity

We are truly globalised but that doesn’t mean we should forget about what is going on our doorstep. There is much we can do to develop our own food technologies, train our own young British citizens and support our producers that are working so hard to increase sustainability, increase quality, increase productivity and create food we all want to eat.

The UK is in a really interesting position right now.

We can fly the flag for even higher welfare standards, innovation and leadership within the food and drink industry. The Coop, for example, has reduced the nitrites in its bacon by 60%. These are used in preservation and have been stripped to the bone in such a way that taste, texture and keeping quality are not compromised. Brewdog has also rolled out a six point sustainability plan. With 50 returned cans you can become a Brewdog Equity Punk.They will also utilise all kinds of cans and use imperfect beer as the basis for beer vodka, thus cutting waste, improving production and creating a new taste sensation. They are also making their brewing knowledge open source, after all, if you brew at home you cut food miles.they also intend to invest £1 million annually to research and help the brewing industry have a positive impact in the world.As Brewdog states in its marketing: ‘ now is the time to be radical in everything we do.’ Surely this is something we should all take on board.

It’s these initiatives that can transform how we consume and produce in the UK and also how the rest of the world views us as a food and drink specialist and high quality producer. We have a marvellous opportunity for a fresh start and a clear vision. It will need an appetite for risk, creativity and top quality training and innovation but these are what we’re already good at, right? What are your thoughts and suggestions?

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