Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Solutions To The Imminent Food Shortage

Experts are warning that the era of cheap food could be over as by 2050 there simply won't been enough land to feed the world's population and carrying on as we are isn't an option.
The Government has invited producers, supermarkets and consumers to suggest how the food system should look in the next few decades.I see four reasons why we are facing a food shortage.

1> Overpopulation. The obvious and most unpalatable answer is that there are just too many of us. How we go about solving that problem is a minefield and nobody is going to want to tackle that one.

2> Biofuels. As demand for biofuel increases, fields of crops are being rerouted from stomachs to engines. As we have seen already, the cost of basics like bread have increased as less crops are grown for consumption, therefore nudging the staple diet of many out of their reach. Arable land is being given over to fuel production instead of feeding people.
Unbelievably there is something called a set-aside subsidy where EU farmers are paid not to grow anything. There is an astonishing 9.4 million acres of land standing idle in Europe.

3> Imports. In my local supermarket there are apples from New Zealand, 11,600 miles away. Carrots from South Africa, 6070 miles and carrots from France, 612 miles away. Why are we importing food that we can grow here? Put to one side the carbon footprint of dragging fruit and vegetables from the other side of the world to our shelves, it is obviously going to be more expensive than bringing in a truckload from a local supplier. It also takes food away from countries such as the case in Ethiopia where it is exporting grains while 12,000,000 of its population barely survive on humanitarian food aid.

4> Supermarkets. Britain's largest supermarket, Tesco, have recently posted profits of more than £3bn Sainsbury's, Britain's second, made a £543m profit and Asda, the third largest, made £422m. All this despite the Worldwide recession. The secret behind such massive profits is the obscene mark-up supermarkets place on their produce. Obviously the cheaper they can buy from producers and the more they can get from consumers, the more money they make in profits. The greed of supermarkets is pushing the prices of food up and reducing the ability of customers to buy the staples what they need.

So my answer would be to stop the obscene practice of paying farmers not to grow food, invest in other forms of powering our cars and vans that doesn't sacrifice our food, tax food from outside of the UK and subsidise locally produced food and whack a huge windfall tax on supermarkets that post massive profits.

It really isn't that hard to work it out.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

it seems you think everybody in the UK (or is it the world) makes obscene profits... or do you just think all profits are obscene...

i also notice that you always use "raw numbers". is the profit still obscene if you use percentages (like Return On Investment)? in other words, if they are making 5% or 6% profit on every pound they invest that seems like a fair profit for exerting their time, energy, and risk...

q

Lucy said...

Obscene profits are when they run into the billions or millions from companies that have a captive audience like supermarkets, banks, amenities, oil companies etc.
Instead of using them to lower prices or in some way help their customer, they share it out amongst themselves.

Kvatch said...

I'm doing my part to reduce the world population. :-) (No kids in this family.)

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

do you really think a 1 billion profit is obscene if the company has to sell say 100 billion to make the 1 billion? i assume you would let them make some profit. would you? if so, how much would you let them make? remember that if you don't let investors make enough return on investment they will take their money (working capital for the company) somewhere else...

there are 61 million brits. if you divided the 1 billion (1000 million) by 60 million then each brit would get a whopping 17 pounds (thats about 25 dollars)... yee haw now everyone can retire!!!

q

Lucy said...

Wouldn't we use the British 1 billion (million x million) rather than the American 1 billion (thousand x million).
1,000,000 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000,000,000 / 61,000,000 =
£16,393.44 each. ($27,165.94)
You might want to check my maths.

Anonymous said...

lucy,

do you really beleive that the grocery stores in the UK are making $27,000 profit per brit?

you do the math...

Q

Lucy said...

Tesco has not been a simple grocers for ages. It is also insurance company, loan supplier, internet service provider, mobile phone supplier and many other fingers in many other pies. It also sells groceries but i would say most of it's income is from these other areas.

Anonymous said...

i just knew that tesco is big. a harvard professor told me that walmart is scared of tesco... that says a lot about tesco...

q

Cheezy said...

I'm not 100% sure if this is right but I think I heard the statistic that one in every 8 pounds spent in the UK ends up in the pocket of Mr Tesco.