Published 26 March 2020
There has been widespread reaction from the public after the government’s lockdown announcement on Monday, instructing the people to self-isolate to stop the spread of COVID-19. There were mass runs on the grocery stores that have left many supermarkets short on non-perishable foods and household goods like toilet paper and cleaners. These actions have led some analysts to look at the economic impacts of isolation throughout the UK.
Agrimetrics, a tech company backed by the UK government, has stated that the food sector is going to be particularly hard hit. The company has analysed data in a bid to get a bigger picture on the effects to the UK food sector.
Professor Richard Tiffin, Agrimetrics co-founder, set out to analyse the data because he wanted to understand any hidden risks that lie within the food system. What the company has found is concerning.
“Our food system is incredibly independent but ironically it’s also incredibly disconnected,” says Tiffin. “We have no idea of the long-term consequences of events like COVID-19.”
Tiffin emphasizes that this lack of information and understanding of connections throughout the food system can have drastic effects on the economy as a whole. “To avoid collapse, we need to understand these connections,” he states.
Agrimetrics is hoping to curb food shortages and their damaging effects by developing AI systems that can help predict food shortages ahead of time. AI is already playing a significant role in food manufacturing, such as increasing production and cutting waste. With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the UK, AI technology may be one way that the food system and industry as a whole can be protected and persevere.