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COVID-19 demand-induced scarcity effects on nutrition and environment: investigating mitigation strategies for eggs and wheat flour in the United Kingdom
journal contributionposted on 23.03.2021, 11:27 by Hana Trollman, Sandeep Jagtap, Guillermo Garcia-Garcia, Rania Harastani, James Colwill, Frank Trollman
The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to food insecurity in developed countries. Despite adequate levels of agricultural production, consumers experienced demand-induced scarcity. Understanding the effects on nutrition and the environment is limited, yet critical to informing ecologically embedded mitigation strategies. To identify mitigation strategies, we investigated wheat flour and egg retail shortages in the United Kingdom (UK), focusing on consumer behavior during the COVID-19 lockdown. The 6 Steps for Quality Intervention Development (6SQuID) framework informed the methodology. Mixed qualitative and quantitative methods were used to pinpoint the causes of the shortages, and ecological impacts of consumer behavior were related using survey results (n = 243) and environmental and nutritional databases. This research confirmed consumers’ narrowed consideration set, willingness to pay, and significant reliance on processed foods which indicates agronomic biofortification, breeding strategies, selective imports and improved processed food quality are important mitigation strategies. We identified positive and negative synergies in consumer, producer and retailer behavior and related these to mitigation strategies in support of a circular bio-economy for food production. We found that the substitutes or alternative foods consumed during the COVID-19 lockdown were nutritionally inadequate. We identified the most ecological substitute for wheat flour to be corn flour; and for eggs, yogurt. Our findings also indicate that selenium deficiency is a risk for the UK population, especially to the increasing fifth of the population that is vegetarian. Due to the need to implement short-, medium-, and long-term mitigation strategies, a coordinated effort is required by all stakeholders.
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- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering