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Volume 1 Issue 11, November 2020

Climate-vulnerable supply

Food systems in the United Kingdom have been under the spotlight due to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic — as have inequalities within them. Increasing climate change adds precarity to the supply of fruit and vegetables in the UK. In 1987, 42% of fruit and vegetable supply in the UK was domestically produced; in 2013, 22% of the supply was homegrown. Over the same period, the diversity of crops, including tropical fruits, presented to the UK consumer has increased, as have imports from climate-vulnerable countries. This reliance may impact availability and the price of fruit and vegetables, with impacts on dietary quality and nutrition likely to be felt among lower-income and more vulnerable sections of society.

See Scheelbeek et al.

Image: Alex Hinds / Alamy Stock Photo. Cover Design: Tulsi Voralia.


  • The multidimensional problems of food require integrated solutions. Yet, there is a lack of clarity on the operationalization of systems thinking in research. This is a major challenge for those working towards the Food Systems Summit.



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Comment & Opinion

  • Food systems are driven by incentives that often lead to food being discarded before entering the market and to the degradation of natural resources. Vegetable production in the water-scarce province of Almería, Spain, illustrates this and highlights the need for policies ensuring ethical and environmental sustainability standards.

    • Jaime Martínez-Valderrama
    • Emilio Guirado
    • Fernando T. Maestre
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News & Views

  • A series of in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo studies show that starch structure and plant tissue intactness control glucose release from pea-based foods. Modification of these characteristics through plant breeding and food processing may provide opportunities for enhanced food formulation, but challenges for labelling and communication.

    • Michael J. Gidley
    News & Views
  • An assessment of the climate vulnerability of the UK’s fruit and vegetable supply is a useful starting point for considering the health, environment, and social trade-offs of international trade in food.

    • Colin K. Khoury
    • Andy Jarvis
    • Andrew D. Jones
    News & Views
  • Effects of national policies on crop yield and nitrogen losses can be disentangled from environmental conditions using spatial discontinuities between international borders.

    • Gilles Billen
    News & Views
  • Climate change increases the frequency and severity of drought in many agricultural regions. A novel big-data approach has been designed to shed light on the interactions between agronomic and environmental factors affecting the sensitivity of crop yields to drought.

    • Francois Tardieu
    News & Views
  • Feeding infants with formula requires heating water and bottles for sterilization and formula preparation. Plastic infant feeding bottles are commonly used, and now their potential to release microplastics has been explored at a global scale.

    • Philipp Schwabl
    News & Views
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  • Traceability is key to food quality and safety, but its wider implementation is hindered by high costs and technical complexity. A newly proposed mobile-based bidirectional system based on information concatenation through products’ 2D barcodes offers an effective, cheaper and more flexible alternative.

    • Kaiyuan Lin
    • David Chavalarias
    • Masaru Mizoguchi
  • Aquaculture must develop within planetary boundaries. Experience from agriculture, such as in managing monocultures and using genetically modified crops, can inform sustainable solutions for aquaculture.

    • Johnathan A. Napier
    • Richard P. Haslam
    • Mónica B. Betancor
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Amendments & Corrections

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