While recent months have seen some easing in the pace of price increases, with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index falling from the all-time-high it reached in March 2022, higher costs for food continue to challenge low- and middle-income households worldwide. While the present crisis will end, the general trend of food price volatility and ensuing food insecurity is unfortunately likely a sign of things to come under a new climate reality.

Climate change will challenge food systems in many ways: shifting temperatures and seasons will slow growth in agricultural productivity and reduce fishery yields; the increasing frequency and severity of extreme events will raise the likelihood of crop losses; and altered precipitation and temperatures will increase water scarcity. For livestock, impacts will be felt on feed quantity and quality, water access, reproduction, productivity, and health/pathogens—likely moving nutrient-dense but already relatively expensive animal-source foods further out of the reach of low-income populations. For crops, rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been shown to lower the protein and micronutrient content of key staple grains; this could cause an additional 175 million people to be zinc deficient and an additional 122 million people to be protein deficient by 2050. Finally, climate change is expected to increase the risk of foodborne disease by fostering more favorable environments for pathogens while reducing access to clean water.

Read the full article about climate change and food systems by Stella Nordhagen at Food Tank.