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Strategic Planning Case Study: Chatham House’s Food Futures Scenarios

Global food supply and food prices can jump-start their strategic what-if scenario planning thanks to a Food Supply Project commissioned by the United Kingdom in 2008. Chatham House commenced the project, which resulted in robust scenarios that organizations impacted by. The official title for this report is “Food Futures: Rethinking UK Strategy” and includes the following scenarios:

  • Key Drivers: The driving forces are (1) demand for food is increasing because the global population is rising and major developing economies are expanding, and (2) global supply capacity, meanwhile, is struggling to keep up with changing requirements.

  • Scenario 1 — Just a Blip: In this scenario, high food prices prove to be a temporary blip and soon return to the long-term trend line. However, a possibility exists that if food prices fall back sharply, financial speculation in commodities will operate in reverse and lead to exaggerated food price volatility.

  • Scenario 2 — Food Inflation: With this scenario, food prices stay high for a protracted period. They contribute significantly to inflation, but the economy adapts and the existing food system copes.

  • Scenario 3 — Into a New Era: In this scenario, input prices initially stay high as per capita production falls steadily. In response, the system of food production must shift dramatically so increased yields are delivered efficiently through regenerative, rather than purely extractive, uses of resources.

  • Scenario 4 — Food in Crisis: In this scenario, multiple shocks disrupt food production and supply. Prices skyrocket as stocks plummet, triggering food shortages, famine, and civil panic.

You can find additional information, including summary and full reports that contain implications of each scenario at the Chatham House website.

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