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Climate Change Risk Assessment and Adaptation Measures in the Food Supply Chain Perceptions and Responses of Buying Firms

Food supply chains (SC) are vulnerable to the effects of global warming, including changing temperature and precipitation patterns and increases in extreme weather events. To deal with these risks companies must increase SC resilience. The chapter explores how importing companies perceive the impacts of climate change and which resilience practices they implement. Focusing on the coffee, fish and seafood, and fruits and vegetables sectors, 17 semi-structured interviews were completed with buyers and other stakeholders and two workshops organized.

The findings indicate that importing companies are generally aware of the risks of climate change. Most consider flexibility practices such as a flexible supply base or ad-hoc adaptation of the product portfolio to be sufficient to tackle current climate change risks. Additionally, many are engaged in collaboration with suppliers and some with actors outside the food SC (e.g., research bodies) to develop and implement measures in their supply chains aiming to increase SC resilience. Current measures are suitable for addressing disruptions and shortages similar to those already experienced, but to address the transformative consequences of extended climate change, strategic approaches are needed that include the establishment of a risk aware culture in companies and practices that enhance adaptability across the entire SC. So far, a few of the analyzed companies, along with an industry-wide initiative in the coffee sector, are realizing these approaches, but many only see a need for strategic and transformative action in the mid- to long-term.

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