Food Security

As journalists go, Gwynne Dyer is one of the better ones and whenever I see one of his syndicated articles appear in the NZ Herald I read it – even if the topic is not necessarily my flavour.  At the very minimum, I will learn something. His latest article discusses food supply.  He takes the position that the assumption we have held until now of  there being enough food on the world for everyone if we could only get it to the right place at the right time is wrong.   He is predicting a global shortage of food and all the unpleasantness that would go with it.

As I was processing that thought and flicking idly through the paper, I came across another article related to food security, this one focusing on the onion price on the Indian subcontinent.  It seems that governments can fall in India when onion prices get too high, onions being a main staple of the Indian diet.  Indira Ghandi did appearently take advantage of  onion market difficulties some decades earlier, so a precedent was set.  Difficult to comprehend when I push my trolly through the local supermarket for basic fruit and vegetables, or when I go looking at the Farmers’ markets for the speciality produce the supermarkets can’t be bothered with.

Not Just Garlic - But Organic & Gourmet As Well!

Could this happen here?  Well, I doubt whether the onion prices would get us moving – it would more likely be the price of snapper or rumpsteak – both of which are rapidly heading into the direction of non-affordability for the average income earner in New Zealand.

Be that as it may, the lesson here is this: consumers go about their daily life with an intrinsic value for a number of staple food items impregnated on their brain.  The degree of tolerance consumers have for price fluctuations of staple food items is directly correlated to their economic purchasing power. When tolerance is stretched to breaking point shit happens consumers express their displeasure through action.  The only way producers can therefore expect consumers to accept the need to pay more for fruit and vegetables is  if consumers get to understand why this should be the case, not just because ‘its happening, get over it’.  The keyword here being ‘Education’.

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