Exposure of the EU-28 food imports to extreme weather disasters in exporting countries

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EU-28 relies on a diversified foreign market, even for crops for which it has a high self-sufficiency. This study contributes to the discussion on the vulnerability of agri-food supply to the impacts of extreme weather disasters (EWD). We focus on the largest import commodities of the EU-28 and we aim to (1) map external dependencies of EU-28 agri-food sector, (2) estimate the impact of EWD on crop production in countries from which the EU-28 receives their imports, and (3) assess the exposure of EU-28 agri-food imports to such impacts. Crop and trade data are acquired through EUROSTAT and FAOSTAT, EWD records from EM-DAT, all between 1961 and 2016. A superposed epoch analysis is used to estimate the impact of EWD on the average national production, yield and harvested area of selected crops in exporting countries. The EU-28 imports between 35-100% of its consumption of soybeans, banana, tropical fruits, coffee and cocoa. Our study reveals a substantial impact of EWD, especially due to droughts and heat waves, on the production of soybeans, tropical fruits, and cocoa, with import weighted impacts of 3, 8, and 7%, respectively. Floods cause weighted impacts of 7% (soybeans) and 8% (tropical fruits). Coffee production shows gains during cold waves, but the inter-annual variability offsets these effects. This study provides conclusions that may support EU-28 on the development of adaptation schemes in external supplier countries to secure EU-28 food supply. Such schemes may prioritize provisions contributing for the stability of crop production and incomes in those countries, while dealing with future adverse EWD impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1373-1393
Number of pages21
JournalFood Security
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Crop production
  • EU-28 external suppliers
  • EU-28 import share-weighted impacts
  • Extreme weather disasters
  • Harvested area
  • Yield

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