Extreme weather in Europe taking toll on food supply chains

08 July 2024 Consultancy.eu 2 min. read

The frequency of extreme weather events in Europe has risen by 48% over the past two years. This has caused a spike in food supply disruptions, according to research from Inverto, a subsidiary of Boston Consulting Group.

From 2021 to 2023, the number of extreme weather events in Europe increased from 11,442 to 16,956 recorded events. Those include things like large hailstorms, heavy rain or snowfall, damaging lightning strikes, droughts caused by hot weather, and even tornadoes.

This damaging weather has had a dramatic negative effect on food crops in Europe, leading to shortages and higher prices for certain products. Just one hailstorm last year caused an estimated €40 million in damages to crops, to give one example.

Extreme weather in Europe taking toll on food supply chains

Source: Inverto

“As extreme weather events increase in frequency and intensity, there will be more disruption to food supply chains. It is therefore essential that businesses learn lessons from recent events and adopt robust measures to prepare for future disruptions,” said Katharina Erfort, principal at Inverto.

“Businesses should invest in tools to identify where food supplies are originating from and how they might be impacted by future extreme weather events. Buyers should also look to diversify their supply base across different regions, especially those with less severe weather.”

Specific crops have been especially impacted by extreme weather. For example, Olive oil has seen record-high prices because of extremely hot weather, rice was badly affected by both drought and floods last year, potato crops suffered from excessive rain, and tomato crops were ravaged under blistering heatwaves.

“As global weather patterns become less predictable, growers need to explore how they can mitigate the impact of weather events on their crops,” added Erfort.

“For example, if growers know due to good forecasting that there is a hailstorm, can they harvest in advance? Or are there materials or methods they can be deployed to protect their crops?”

The increasingly severe effects of climate change have had a dramatic effect on weather conditions around the world in recent years. Besides droughts and floods, forest fires in Greece, Spain, Italy, and other parts of Europe have made headlines every summer over the past several years.

The southern part of Europe is likely to be hit harder by climate change-related extreme weather, according to reporting from Politico. This will likely cause more food price and availability issues, with much of the continent’s food production centered in Spain, Italy, Greece, and other parts of Southern Europe.