IUFoST Scientific Roundtable on Supporting the Resilience of the Food Production Sector and Limiting Food Supply Disruption During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Vienna / Quebec City 29 May 2020 – IUFoST Scientific Roundtable, cohosted by UNIDO and PARERA discusses directions of future investments to maintain and further promote  the resilience of the food production sector during an pandemic such as COVID19

The scientific roundtable was organized through a webinar on Wednesday 27 May 2020, and gathered food regulators and representatives of the food production sector from Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East. It was co-hosted by the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST), the Sustainable Food Systems Division of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Excellence Platform (PARERA) of Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

The roundtable enabled participants to share perspectives of the food production sector and of food regulators on the challenges they faced, some of the solutions they developed and the lessons learnt, as part of their efforts to prevent the disruption of food production and to contribute in maintaining the safety of products and consumer confidence.

The roundtable highlighted key enablers to the food supply chain’s ability to cope with the pandemic, in particular the ability to adapt to constraints of limited transportation and to diversify suppliers with the introduction of more local and/or regional providers, to prevent and mitigate food and ingredient shortages while encouraging and supporting the local production sectors minimally affected by the consequences of the pandemic. Roundtable participants highlighted the importance of collaborations and partnerships established amongst regulators and between regulators and food producers to support each other in the development and dissemination of guidance related to COVID-19 mitigation measures and how they can be adapted and applied in the context of food production settings. The development of innovative solutions to execute food regulatory functions such as remote audits, inspections and assessments have contributed to limiting the constraints associated with the current pandemic.

The roundtable concluded to the need to continue investments in efforts to address food production sector deficiencies, such as making available more localized processing operations in order to create more opportunities for the primary production sector and to contribute to its resilience. It also highlighted the need to further examine food supply chains towards a better redistribution between global and local / regional supply, while supporting additional efforts towards innovative operationalization of food regulatory requirements and functions by regulators and food producers alike.

The Summary Report is available and downloadable at http://iufost.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2.IUFoST-RT-Summary-27May2020_v2.pdf

The proceedings of the roundtable and contribution of panelists can be publicly accessed through the following link: https://youtu.be/Bp4-8KmsIhg