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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Interplay of trade and food system resilience: Gains on supply diversity over time at the cost of trade independency

Kummu, Matti; Kinnunen, Pekka; Lehikoinen, Elina; Porkka, Miina; Queiroz, Cibele; Roos, Elin; Troell, Max; Well, Charlotte


Rapidly increasing international food trade has drastically altered the global food system over the past decades. Using national scale indicators, we assess two of the resilience principles that directly reflect the effects of global trade on food systems - namely, maintaining diversity and redundancy, and managing connectivity. We perform our analysis for four nutritional components: dietary energy, proteins, fat, and quantity of vegetables & fruits the key pillars of the WHO dietary recommendations. Our results indicate that, between 1987 and 2013, food supply diversity increased significantly for most of the world's population at the cost of an elevated dependency upon food imports. Food production diversity, particularly in terms of dietary energy and vegetables & fruits, increased for a large proportion of the world population, with the exception being major exporting countries, where it decreased. Of particular note is our finding that, despite a growing number of people being heavily dependent upon imports, the number of import partners decreased more often than it increased, except for the case of vegetables & fruits. This combination of increased dependency on imports and a reduced number of import partners indicates a potential vulnerability to disruptions in linked food systems. Additionally, it is alarming that we found many countries where the studied resilience aspects systematically declined, elevating their exposure to future shocks in the food system.


Food trade; Resilience; Global food systems; Diversity; Connectivity

Published in

Global Food Security
2020, volume: 24, article number: 100360
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Kummu, Matti
Aalto Univ
Kinnunen, Pekka
Aalto Univ
Lehikoinen, Elina
Aalto Univ
Porkka, Miina
Stockholm Univ
Queiroz, Cibele
Stockholm Univ
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology
Troell, Max
Royal Swedish Acad Sci
Troell, Max
Stockholm Univ
Well, Charlotte
Stanford Univ

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Food Science

Publication Identifiers


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