Gathering Storm: The Food Industry’s Response to Extreme Weather Patterns

Extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, appear to be increasing due to climate change, according to Ajinder Plahey, an executive with HowGood, an independent research company. “Agriculture is on the front lines,” she said. With each passing week there are new reports quantifying the toll of extreme weather on agriculture and hunger around the world. Two-thirds of Europe is under drought alerts, prompting what experts at the Global Drought Observatory say would be the worst drought in at least 500 years. Kenya is suffering from its worst drought in four decades. Hurricane Ian pummeled parts of the southeast U.S. in late September, causing significant citrus crop loss. And that storm came on the heels of a difficult summer for crops across the country due to exceptional drought. American corn is on track to produce its lowest yield in a decade while the U.S. hard red winter wheat crop was the smallest since 1963.

“Companies that don’t have sustainability as part of their core value proposition need to act now to protect against future reputational impacts and loss of market share,” said Shikha Jain, author of the 2021 study by global consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, in a statement. “The clock is ticking, and failure to think through the implications could have long-term consequences for traditional firms.”

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