Increasingly vulnerable “chokepoints” are threatening the security of the global food supply, according to a new report. It identifies 14 critical locations, including the Suez canal, Black Sea ports and Brazil’s road network, almost all of which are already hit by frequent disruptions.

With climate change bringing more incidents of extreme weather, analysts at the Chatham House thinktank warn that the risk of a major disruption is growing but that little is being done to tackle the problem. Food supply interruptions in the past have caused huge spikes in prices which can spark major conflicts.

The chokepoints identified are locations through which exceptional amounts of the global food trade pass. More than half of the globe’s staple crop exports – wheat, maize, rice and soybean – have to travel along inland routes to a small number of key ports in the US, Brazil and the Black Sea. On top of this, more than half of these crops – and more than half of fertilisers – transit through at least one of the maritime chokepoints identified.

The global food trade depends on 14 critical ‘chokepoints’, almost all of which are at risk of increasing disruption

Major shipping routes

Maritime chokepoints

Coastal

Inland

Strait of

Dover

US Gulf of Mexico ports,

inland waterways, and

rail network

Black Sea ports

and rail network

Turkish Straits

Strait of Hormuz

Suez

canal

Strait of

Gibraltar

Panama

canal

Strait of Bab

al-Mandab

Strait of Malacca

Brazil’s southern ports

and inland road network

Guardian graphic | Source: Chatham House

“We are talking about a huge share of global supply that could be delayed or stopped for a significant period of time,” said Laura Wellesley, one of the authors of the Chatham House report. “What is concerning is that, with climate change, we are very likely to see one or more of these chokepoint disruptions coincide with a harvest failure, and that’s when things start…