Footprint Blog


Ever heard of El-Nino (ENSO)? Foodservice needs to!

Posted in 1,Comment,Economics,Food Miles,Foodservice Footprint news,International,Logistics,News,Produce by foodservicefootprint on July 19, 2009

elnino

According to The Daily Telegraph business section, farmers across the southern hemisphere are preparing for El Nino Southern Oscillation, often shortened to ENSO. It involves a warming in the Pacific that sets off a chain of events that cause droughts in Australia and floods in South America. And it is likely that crops will fail.

Businesses all over the world, particularly those involved with food have to keep a very close eye on ENSO as it has the very realistic potential to substantially alter cost drivers. According to The Daily Telegraph, ‘Supply chains can be disrupted, input costs can soar and logistics for global operations become a nightmare’.

Rather than thinking that this is entirely man-made, it is not! Over the past two weeks meteorologists worldwide have been predicting just that.  A weather event that occurs once every three to seven years is under way and weather patterns across the southern hemisphere could be sent into turmoil over the next six months.

The last severe ENSO occured in 1997-1998. ‘In the late 1990’s drought conditions caused the failure of Australian wheat crops and sparked massive forest fires in Indonesia, which is responsible for about 30% of global vegetable oil production. The price of palm oil rocketed almost 300% and Africa also withered under prolonged drought…In California, the cost of fruit and vegetables jumped in 1997 – the price of strawberries doubled – as higher than normal moisture levels in the air and the ground caused crops to be attacked by fungi and other pests’.  Brazilian coffee jumped by 102% in the six months during the 1997 El Nino and the overall estimated impact of El Nino was estimated to be in the order of 25bn.

In all the debate about local sourcing one maybe forgets about the sensitivity of ecological equilibrium and the impact that a global agricultural imbalance can have on the British Foodservice and Retail industry. Most importantly it puts climate issues and global warming into perspective and perhaps offers a very real snippet of what we are dealing with!

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