FAO’s Big Data tool on food chains
under the COVID-19 pandemic

About FAO's Big Data tool on food chains under the COVID-19 pandemic

As the pandemic spreads, measures tighten. Border closures, lockdowns, production and trade disruptions are putting the global food system under strain. Hampering the movement of agricultural and food industry workers and extending border delays for food containers, result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste. Industrialized countries are facing unprecedented scenarios and economic consequences with markets and prices starting to alter. Past crisis, however, showed that the consequences are harder for the most vulnerable and food insecure populations. Food chains disruptions may create food shortage, especially in countries already affected by high levels of food insecurity.

In order to mitigate the impact of this looming, global crisis, timely decisions are needed based on solid information.

This open-access tool developed by FAO Data Lab gathers and analyses daily information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food and agriculture, value chains, food prices, food security and undertaken measures, with the aim of providing countries with facts and information to build their decisions.

This platform has been released for general use as early as possible to provide relevant and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 impact on supply chains and food security. The platform, its coverage, functions and analytics will keep evolving in the near future.

What does the platform offer?

  • A COVID-19 impact Analysis tool: the tool carries out a sentiment analysis, for the world and by country, to monitor how economic and food topics evolve within the COVID-19 tweets of 270+ newspapers. The analysis shows which economic or food-related words are more frequent and connected, thus highlighting the most relevant issues at world or country level as well as over time.
  • A Food prices monitor: the tool monitors food prices and their trends daily, worldwide. Food prices are a most sensitive indicator and send warning signals on a deterioration of food access and food supply. The daily prices page shows the global average prices increases of 14 food commodities since 14 February up to the current day. Each commodity is linked to the daily prices in each country, ranked by magnitude of its price change.
  • A Twitter Semantic Search: twice-a-day coverage of the Twitter accounts of 270+ newspapers world-wide to capture new topics, trends, related terms, distribution and connections. The database contains all the tweets (#COVID-19 and others) since 1 January 2020 with a tool that allows users to filter and search (registration needed, click on Register link on top).
  • A News search: news coverage of COVID-19 impact on food value chains across the world, organised in a faceted page to highlight relevant news for analysts and stakeholders. News can be filtered by language, country, commodity, topic, source and date.
  • Methodological notes on the approach, methods and sources used.

(in alphabetical order)

  • Carola Fabi
  • Caterina Caracciolo
  • Frano Ilicic
  • Luis Silva e Silva
  • Marco Scarno'
  • Valeria Pesce

Contacts: FAO Datalab (ESS-datalab@fao.org)