CONCERNS are growing over 'food stress' around the word, with a shortage of lettuce in Australia a key example, forcing some restaurants to take drastic measures, while tomato ketchup is also under threat.


How drastic are the measures?

US fast food restaurant giants KFC and Subway have had to limit the amount of lettuce used in their produce, blending some lettuce with cabbage leaves in Australian outlets due to a lettuce shortage that has hit the country.


What’s behind the shortage?

Recent floods in New South Wales and Queensland decimated lettuce crops as extreme weather events take a toll on food production and fuel a surge in the cost of living in Australia. Prices for available lettuces have now rocketed, with social media users sharing images of not just empty shelves, but pictures of price tags for available lettuces selling for as much as $12.


It’s not the first time?

In January, KFC in Australia also had to modify its menus due to a lack of its main product - chicken. As Omicron spread across the country, the shortage of staff hit Australia’s biggest chicken supplier.



In December, McDonald’s in Japan suffered a shortage of chips, explaining it usually imported the potatoes from Canada, but ships had been hit with delays due to flood damage and the impact of the pandemic on global supply. This followed McDonalds saying in August last year that it was facing a lack of shakes and bottled drinks in the UK, with the shortage of lorry drivers one reason cited, intensified by rule changes following Brexit.


Tomato ketchup is at risk?

Tomato ketchup, paste, sauce and other tomato products. A new study from Aarhust University in Denmark warns climate change could halve the fruit's global harvest this century. The tomatoes used are mainly cultivated in China, California and Italy and rising temperatures means the crops are being put under rising stress. Lead author, Dr Davide Cammarano, said: “The threat of climate change is significant.”


Extreme weather, Covid, Brexit and…?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hit the global supply chain. For example, Ukraine exports millions of tonnes of grain worldwide annually, but it cannot presently be accessed due to a Russian naval blockade.


Food stress is already deeply felt worldwide?

According to the UN, the number of severely food-insecure people has risen from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million.


Concerns are growing?

On Wednesday night, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned: “The war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe and speeding up”. He added that it “threatens to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and misery”.


What now?

The war is the immediate focus. Mr Guterres said in the UN’s second report into the repercussions of the conflict that while this year we are facing a lack of food access and rising food stress, next year could be about a lack of food, saying: “There is only one way to stop this gathering storm - the Russian invasion of Ukraine must end”.