At the time of Thomas Malthus at the end of the eighteenth century, the global population was approaching one billion, which was mostly supported by the three food bowl regions consisting of Continental Europe that stretched from France to Poland and the Ukraine, the Indus-Ganges river system on the Asian Subcontinent, and the Yangtze-Yellow-Mekong river systems in China and Indo-China. Malthus was concerned that population increased in geometric proportions, while food production increased in arithmetic proportions. However, the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the defeat of Britain in East
Louisiana in 1815 opened up the whole of the Mississippi waterway drainage basin that stretched into the southern Canadian prairies as the fourth global food bowl. Britain felt so threatened by potential new food imports from this food bowl region that it immediately introduced the Corn Laws, while many countries in Continental Europe retreated into increased protectionism and isolationism that has largely continued until now. It only took until 1927 for the global population to reach two billion. The Malthusian
fears of population being limited by food shortages were initially very short-lived, but perhaps revived during recent times as the population increased to three billion in 1959, four billion in 1974, ﬁve billion in 1987, six billion in 1999, and seven billion in 2011. Current global population growth rates have seemingly levelled at an extra billion people every 12 years, having possibly been steadied by an increased rural shift to urbanization. The four food bowls of Continental Europe, the Asian Subcontinent, China and
Indo-China, and the USA feed most of the 90 per cent of global inhabitants who live above the Equator. Without these four food bowl regions, it is highly unlikely that the global population would have reached current proportions. Whilst this suggests dependence on such regions, it also suggests that food chains have been relatively eﬀective in satisfying the basic needs of much of the global population. However,
food insecurity and high death rates have induced higher population growth rates in some countries. Food supply aggregate eﬀectiveness can mask serious underlying food problems.
Research literature has been noticeably deﬁcient in distinguishing between the eﬃciencies of perishable and non-perishable food supply chains. It is more likely that population growth and nutrition have been sustained more from unregulated but eﬃcient perishable food supply chains than it has from highly regulated and less eﬃcient storable food supply chains. Perishables such as poultry, eggs, meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, and fresh dairy
products are far more likely to have sustained the large population explosion over the past century than storables such as grains, legumes, pulses, sugar, dried dairy products, and the historically ubiquitous salt. Peripherals such as vegetable oils, coﬀee, cocoa, and spices lie somewhere in between as semi-storables. Most researchers, commentators, economists and authors have not made distinctions between perishables and storables when investigating food supply chains, which makes this book quite unique. Despite the major role of perishables in the food supply chain, the book will focus exclusively on storables because that is where most price distortion, government intervention, and supply chain problems have occurred through political and vested interest machinations. Nazi Germany was one of the few governments that attempted through the Reich
Food Estate during 1933-36 to intervene and control perishables, with disastrous outcomes. In contrast, most governments have attempted to intervene and control storables, sometimes with dire consequences to the storable food supply chain, such as in Stalin’s USSR and Mao’s China. These examples will be discussed as case studies in the book. Despite the importance of perishables in feeding the global population, whenever
the price of storable grain rises, supposedly Armageddon is nigh because of food inﬂation. Blame is proportioned to ethanol, fund speculation, or weather. The paradox is that when grain prices are frequently low, and bankrupt farmers are making decisions either not to plant seed or to hoard, everybody else seems quite content in the status quo. This strange pattern of human behaviour that is interwoven with political ideology, ‘equilibrium’ delusions, corruption, dependency issues and food ‘aid’ donations explains one of the motivations for this book. Whilst perishables might be considered the antithesis to risk management because
of the inability to control supply chain risks, except for refrigeration, food security risk for perishables can be low in deregulated countries because of multiple supply sources, substitutability, imports, and high value-to-weight ratios that suit air-freight economies. In contrast, storables invite risk management in supply chains, but very little
storable food chain risk is managed eﬀectively. Paradoxically, government intervention contradicts good risk management practice and is likely to lead to publicprivate hoarding and speculation. The book will attempt to explain some of the reasons, including commoditization and commingling, traditional bulk handling, and railway-port dependency.