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

  • Teresa Armada BrásEmail author
  • Jonas Jägermeyr
  • Júlia Seixas
Original Paper


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.


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



Thanks to Nuno Carvalhais for the valuable inputs and fruitful discussions on the methodology to assess the statistical significance of the obtained results. This study was partially supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, in Portugal, through the grant PD/BD/114570/2016 and also through the support given to CENSE (FCT, Portugal UID/AMB/04085/2019).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest with any organizations or individuals.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Plant Pathology and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CENSE – Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research, NOVA School of Science and TechnologyNOVA University LisbonCaparicaPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.NASA Goddard Institute for Space StudiesNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Climate Impacts and VulnerabilitiesPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Member of the Leibniz Association,PotsdamGermany

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