A new Oxfam report says a combination of population growth, climate change and rising energy prices could create a food supply crisis in the next 20 years. Is this really a serious problem or is Chicken Little at it again? Global hunger is nothing to laugh at, but this report shouldn’t necessarily be taken too seriously, either.
You may remember the dire predictions made in the 1970s about explosive population growth and limited food supply. What those predictions didn’t take into account is human ingenuity – our ability to solve complex problems with our intellect. Farmers developed better methods to grow and protect crops, and disaster was easily avoided.
The flaw in the new report is that it again fails to take into account people’s creativity at solving difficult problems. What can food producers do to solve the problems of increasing demand, supply disruptions and inflation? Here are some solutions.
Dealing with Demand
The world population continues to increase, offering both a challenge and an opportunity to food producers. As demand for food increases, they will have to work harder to keep up with it by adding new locations, increasing supplies and speeding up production.
To accomplish these tasks while also simplifying the complex manufacturing process, food producers can use a food inventory system. This system lets them manage inventory in multiple locations, keep the right number of products and materials in stock to prevent shortages, and reduce the amount of time it takes to fill customer orders by boosting efficiency.
Saving Supply Chains
If environmental conditions change as much as the Oxfam report predicts, farmers will need to get more creative to keep producing enough food to meet demand. Luckily, the free market already has solutions in place to keep production strong. If one farming area suffers major setbacks in production, farmers can hopefully relocate to more favorable areas. If they’re unable to do that, competitors in more fertile areas will outperform them and become more successful.
Food producers will want to do business with farmers they can trust to get their orders to them on time. Again, a good way to tell which suppliers are reliable is to use a food inventory system. It records delivery times, order accuracy and more so food producers can quickly tell which suppliers they should keep doing business with.
Keeping Costs Down
Prices of all sorts of materials are going up and it doesn’t look like they’ll go down anytime soon. How can food producers deal with the reality of higher costs? I already talked about how businesses can fight inflation in another blog post, so I’ll give a quick summary here. Basically, food producers should focus on what they can control. With a food inventory system, they can increase efficiency, reduce expenses and improve customer service. Food producers that do more with less will have a competitive advantage that can help them keep costs as low as possible.
The food supply situation doesn’t need to become a crisis if food producers plan ahead and notice problems before they become emergencies. If they use a food inventory system and some creative thinking, they should be able to come up with responses to changing conditions. With any luck, the dire Oxfam report will be just as wrong as the ones in the ‘70s.