Publications — Resilience and vulnerabilities

Shock Transmission in the International Food Trade Network

by Water To Food Team

Food Security is a long-standing concern worldwide. The expansion of global food markets brings benefits but also risks, such as shock transmission within the global network of trade relations.

We focus on this last issue, from an empirical point of view, by analysing the diffusion of trade shocks—defined as relevant drops in exported quantities—during the period 1986—2011, for four major staples (wheat, maize, rice, and soy-beans) both at country level and at global scale.

We find that: (i) income per capita of importing countries is relevant in shock propagation; (ii) developing countries tend to absorb most of the negative export variation (i.e., the trade shock), and (iii) global food prices and real (tonnes) flows of commodities are only weakly correlated, meaning that a quantity-based investigation provides additional information with respect to a price-based analysis.

This work offers a novel framework, complementary to the price-based literature, for the measurement of the propagation of international food shocks.