The implications of stockpiling or panic buying amidst the Coronavirus crisis has been outlined by a Liverpool Hope University academic.
Bryce Evans is Associate Professor of History at Hope, who’s written extensively on nutrition and public feeding in times of war.
Last week he called for the Government to do more to help supermarkets faced with customers seeking to buy more than they might need in the short term.
And he says we can look to the lessons learned from the World Wars to guide the nation in its strategy over the coming weeks.
He was also invited to speak on BBC Radio Merseyside, as well as Ireland's RTE Radio 1 Drivetime show. You can listen to those clips by clicking here.
Meanwhile the advice seems all the more relevant amid reports some supermarkets were now rationing consumers to one item of essentials - such as milk, bread and eggs - per person per shop.
Associate Professor Evans adds: “The sort of controls on consumption I spoke about in these media pieces are now, in fact, being rolled out, with retailers recently imposing online purchase limits and government data being used to prioritise the most vulnerable for online delivery and emergency food parcels.”
Hope’s expert had pleaded for calm from customers - in a move that would also protect supermarket staff.
He explains: “If we are to stop people going to supermarkets en masse and protect supermarket workers from having to administer and police what has become an in-store rationing system, then we need an online system constantly monitored and centrally coordinated between the main retailers and the government that effectively rations certain goods as the need arises.
“Mobile feeding was a feature of the wars and we are, effectively, seeing the return of this already via volunteers, or the Army, delivering food to the doorsteps of the 1.5 million most vulnerable.
“This is effectively what the food bank model is evolving into - and we've been here before.
“We may also need to look once more at the ‘Land Army’ model from the wars. There’s a big shift underway in terms of what people are buying - beans, legumes, for example.
“To cope with potential shortfalls in labour and a shift towards greater production of legumes and fruit and veg in Britain - as well as unemployment - a govt scheme reminiscent of that seen during the war to get people working the land.
“The overriding point is that we must all shift our consumption habits to adapt to the emergency, but that we need the government - in the form of a new Ministry of Food headed by retailers and promoted by trusted public faces - to help manage this transition. It should not be drab and statist, it should be informed by history, yet also creative.”
Meanwhile Associate Professor Evans also said the Government needs to come down hard on any black market profiteers.
He added: “The war shows that the government needs to take tougher measures on those who profiteer during this national emergency.
“These people are not ‘entrepreneurs’, they are spivs.”