Eric Schuh: Food safety issues are rising with population growth

The Head of Swiss Re's Casualty Centre gave a closing speech at the 'Insuring Food Safety' conference at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue.

Read a text version of his interview here:

"We believe that food safety and food security are a growing problem and the main driver for that is population growth in the world. The United Nations expects the world population to grow by 2050 to more than 9 billion people from currently about 7 billion. That increase of 30 percent in world population will be accompanied with an increase in food demand of more than 70 percent. That means this food needs to be produced, supply chains will become more complex and intertwined and that will increase the risk around food security.

What is important is the consequence to society and not necessarily the consequence for the individual. We might have had experience ourselves with food poisoning. I certainly have had, and it's not a nice experience - but if we see what it can do to a society, for example, a relatively recent E. coli outbreak in Germany that caused not only loss of life and suffering, but also financial burden of more than 1 billion euros. This is an obvious problem that needs to be mitigated. Insurance has a role to play here.

If you are in the centre of a scandal that you might not even have caused yourself. It might have been a supplier of yours and you might have done the utmost to prevent the situation, but, if you cannot prove that you've been working with companies who can help you doing that, if you cannot prove that you have risk management processes in place that minimize situations like these, it will be very difficult to come out of a situation like that unharmed. So we are here to help with all these things, through forward-looking models, through help with risk management and the like."