An anti-food waste campaign issued in China a while ago has sparked the debate on whether the country would already be foreseeing a worldwide food shortage to happen by the end of this year. The “Clean Plate Campaign” has been a topic of heated discussion on social media over the past days, and lots of people are seeing it as an attempt to implement a damage control plan before things get out of hand. For that reason, in this video, we’re going to investigate what has been going on in China’s food supply chains in 2020, explaining what this new measure effectively means, and what we can expect to see on the world’s food supply chains from now on.
Allegedly targeting food bloggers who live stream their extraordinary eating experiences and may influence their audience into binge eating, President Xi Jinping has enacted this new policy together with a set of procedures Shanghai officials are now reporting regarding business and residents that may present food-wasting behavior. Amid sharp criticism that the campaign would be notably authoritarian, Jinping defended that such eating habits were “shocking and distressing”, and that China had to “maintain a sense of crisis about food security” in the face of the global sanitary outbreak. The declaration raised eyebrows and made lots of people question if China could soon face food shortages due to the major complications it had to deal with this year.
Apart from the consequences induced by the health crisis, which created several disruptions in food supply chains, China has also suffered from droughts, floods, and pests, and it is likely to experience poor harvests this year. In January, to prevent the spread of the virus, Chinese authorities ordered people to stay at home, farmers included. When restrictions eased in March, most farmers were allowed to come back to work. However, a short time after, extreme weather conditions across large swathes of China caused significant destruction in large crops.
In early June, heavy rains were registered in the country’s south, center, and east. On the other hand, the northwest and northeast suffered from droughts. Meanwhile, Chinese farmers had disclosed to a prominent newsletter that due to the invasion of pests such as locusts and fall armyworms in their crops, they suspected that they would lose their harvest this year. Furthermore, in the first half of July, China National Grain and Oils Information Center published its projections for the corn supply gap in the 2020-2021 fiscal year to be 25 million metric tons, more than double the previous estimated 12 million metric tons. Later, on August 5th, the Center released a forecast that China would import six million metric tons of wheat in the 12 months from June 2020 to May 2021, likely coming from France, Russia, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan. This is a very unusual event for China, hitting the highest amount of grain importation in the past seven years.
According to the newsletter, at the end of July, while visiting northeastern Jilin Province, Chinese leader Xi Jinping mandated the local government to treat grain production as a priority task. Additionally, Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua demanded the governors of each province in China to ensure the sown areas of agricultural crops would not shrink and crop yield won’t be reduced this year, threatening governors by affirming they would be punished if they failed to uphold the promise, including with dismissals. In that sense, with such an aggressive take on the maintenance of the food supply system, the attitude of the Chinese officials signaled that China could potentially face a severe food shortage this year.
Even though the problems are real, the approach seems extreme. As the director of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, Ma Jun sustained “for the general public, it is better to raise their awareness and change social customs through advocacy rather than compulsory measures”. In conclusion, when we consider that one of the world’s largest food exporter is taking such radical actions to contain the damages of a deeply affected food supply chain, we can expect the countries that import from China to also suffer from colossal disruptions in their food supply chains. Major food shortages are coming in worldwide proportions, and if you haven’t started stocking food and supplies yet, you should probably start right now. As we always advise on our channel: don’t let fate comes to you, we’re facing the worse economic collapse ever witnessed in human history, don’t expect things to get any less apocalyptical than they are now. Get prepared!


Epic Economist

View all posts