Food rationing could be implemented if we keep panic buying
With food in such short supply, experts say it's only a matter of time...
If you're not guilty of panic buying at the supermarket, you will probably have witnessed someone who is. That person who thinks it's ok to buy 15kg of pasta for the three people in the house, or 20 rolls of toilet paper (where are people keeping this stuff?!).
The first mutterings of lockdown or quarantine got everyone a little shooketh, and since then, supermarkets have faced unprecedented demand for just about everything. There have been arguments and even fights in the aisles over items, and more and more people are leaving stores empty handed, having failed to find what they were looking for.
Limits imposed on certain items to try and keep the shelves stocked have been greeted with relief by some, but abuse of staff by others. It's not ok.
Shoppers crowd outside the supermarket, awaiting opening.
Associate professor of history and politics at Liverpool Hope University, Bryce Evans, has compared this to the surge in demand for groceries seen during both the first and second world wars. He says that, although we are not yet in a crisis when it comes to food volumes, that is where we are heading if we can't be more sensible.
Sadly, he is all too aware of how unlikely it is that that public will have more restraint, voluntarily. A government spokesperson recently said, "We will do whatever it takes to ensure people have the food and supplies they need. Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains and taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need." Professor Evans claims that history shows this just doesn't work.
He said ‘There needs to be a big shift in current consumption behaviours, because it’s a matter of weeks before things start to become a real problem if we continue in the same vein. I can see rationing on the horizon. Both wars show us that what the government is doing right now – telling people not to panic buy, to voluntarily curtail consumption – just doesn’t work, sadly."
His suggestion is to follow up the guidance with a government led rationing system, much like was seen during the war. To bring it up to date and make it as easy as possible for everyone, he suggests this could be implemented online, which would prevent hundreds of people flooding the supermarket at opening time and risking further spread of the virus.
Instead, he suggests that companies like UberEats and Deliveroo could be used to distribute goods purchased online using ration vouchers.