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Season 4

Episode 8: Global food (in)security

Abstact collage depicting food insecurity

Transcript: Season 4, Episode 8: Global food (in)security

Disclosure: The opinions expressed by Eurasia Group analysts in this podcast episode are their own, and may differ from those of Citigroup Inc and its affiliates.

Harlin Singh: Affordability and accessibility have become much more top of mind for investors and policymakers. It's not just about the amount of food and just total calories to keep people alive, but there's certainly a great deal of focus on innovation.

Peter Ceretti: We need to keep that investment flowing to come up with better ways to do this so that everyone is fed within the constraints of what the planet is able to bear.

Malcolm Spittler: Disruption is always the force that we hear about these days, but it is just as true in something as seemingly traditional as agriculture as it is in the high-tech space.

Shari Friedman: Welcome to Living Beyond Borders, a podcast from Citi Global Wealth Investments and GZERO Media. On this program, we examine global risks and opportunities from the angles of both politics and economics. I'm Shari Friedman, Managing Director of Climate and Sustainability at Eurasia Group.

The world today has major hunger pains. According to the United Nations, an estimated 670 million people across 89 countries are experiencing what's known as acute hunger. That means severe undernourishment and at risk for starvation. In some countries like Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, it's truly an emergency, and the reasons for this are many. Food prices, which were already high, following disruptions during the pandemic, climbed up even further in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ertharin Cousin, former head of the UN World Food Program joined a GZERO livestream exactly one year ago, and she said this:

Ertharin Cousin: 12 months from now, what is now being suggested is that we move from a food affordability crisis to a food availability crisis, that is not about high-priced food, it is about food being unavailable.

Shari Friedman: Affordability and availability are both affected by many factors, ranging from the war in Ukraine, to supply chain disruptions, to climate change. To dig into all of these food topics, I'm joined by two guests from Citi Global Wealth Investments. Harlin Singh is the Global Head of Sustainable Investing. Hi, Harlin.

Harlin Singh: Hi, Shari. Thanks for having me.

Shari Friedman: And Malcolm Spittler is Global Investment Strategist and Senior U.S. Economist. Welcome.

Malcolm Spittler: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Shari Friedman: We also have my Eurasia Group colleague, Pete Ceretti here, he is Director of Global Macro Geo Strategy. Hey, Pete.

Peter Ceretti: Hi, Shari.

Shari Friedman: Pete, I want to start with you and kind of the big picture. Let's start on the scale of the food crisis itself. What is the scope of this globally and where are the needs the most acute?

Peter Ceretti: So we're seeing pressure on household budgets and on the ability to afford food affecting people all around the world in countries at all levels of income. Something like 90 out of 150 countries that were reporting data in March had food inflation rates above 10%. In some cases, those food inflation rates are even higher. They're above 20%, and a few cases, we have countries with food inflation that's running over a hundred percent. The interesting thing here is that it is not just countries like Lebanon, like Venezuela, countries that are facing conflict like Sudan, that have these very, very high food inflation rates. Even in Europe, we see wealthy countries like the UK, like Sweden, like Germany, with food inflation running at close to 20% or in some cases higher.

Now, the countries that are really feeling this the most, that are at the greatest risk here are the poorest countries with social safety nets that are not able to shield the population, and especially those countries that have governance issues or are facing conflict. In terms of the absolute number of people who are facing really, really extreme and severe deprivation, it's countries like the DRC, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Yemen that are the worst hit. But just to give you kind of a sense of the numbers, the UN and other organizations estimated that something like 193 million people in 2021 were facing extreme forms of food distress. That number increased to 258 million people around the world last year.

Shari Friedman: As you said, there was already a baseline food disruption, and could you explain why the war in Ukraine caused additional disruption and to what extent are efforts by the UN and others to broker agreements on grain transport, to what extent have those been successful?

Peter Ceretti: So the reason that the war in Ukraine had such a big impact on food prices around the world is partly due to the success of Russia and Ukraine in becoming major agricultural kind of powerhouses over the last 30 years or so. Before the war, Russia and Ukraine accounted together for something like 75% of world exports of sunflower oil. About 30% of exported wheat and barley were coming from these countries, and it's something like 17% of the world's corn exports. It was mainly food importing countries in the Mediterranean basin, countries like Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, that were buying large quantities of food from these countries. When the war started, we saw a lot of people leave the farmland to go fight.

We saw transit disrupted, shipments stopped from the Black sea and energy prices, transport prices went sky high overnight. So all of this meant that for one thing, food supplies were disrupted to a lot of countries that were dependent on food imports. And then for another, once shipments resumed, prices were much, much higher.

Another thing to note here is that Russia and Belarus in particular are big suppliers of fertilizers to countries around the world. Nitrogenous fertilizers in the case of Russia. In Belarus's case it's potash and phosphorous-based fertilizers. So those phosphorous-based fertilizers coming out of Belarus were sanctioned by the EU, and Russia continued to export nitrogenous fertilizer, but nitrogenous fertilizer uses natural gas as its key feed stock. Most of the chemicals that are used to make these fertilizers are broken down from natural gas as the starting ingredient. And so when oil and gas prices go high, natural gas prices end up feeding into higher fertilizer prices too. So there's an indirect effect, that it's hard to procure fertilizer, harder to farm, and food prices go up as a result.

Now, UN efforts have made a difference here in the sense that along with the efforts of Turkey and other countries, helped to broker a deal so that we got this Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was able to restart shipments through the Black Sea from Ukraine and Russia as well, so that food exports could get out to countries that are trade dependent on the Black Sea region, and we can see grain and oil seeds continue to flow. Russia has made increasing noise about upending that deal. We at Eurasia Group don't think that that's likely over the near term, although the situation is rocky. And ultimately that's probably not going to be enough to totally mitigate the upward pressure that we've seen on food prices as a result of the war.

Shari Friedman: I want to go over to Malcolm for a moment. Food commodity prices on the global markets have fallen since last year, but inflation is still there and it's still a major factor. So could you break down the affordability part of this problem?

Malcolm Spittler: So for a household, they have an amount of money to spend on things, and even if there's some inflation in some area other than food, it still constricts their ability to spend on food. Additionally, we've seen a very strong pickup of the U.S. dollar, and that pickup in the U.S. dollar, which is the currency that a lot of these commodity prices are set in, means that in local currency terms, often we are actually seeing higher prices due to this currency factor, even as we are seeing dynamics shift a bit in terms of what is happening with the underlying commodities.

The other thing is it takes quite a time to actually get a crop ready for market. So fertilizer prices, for instance, have fallen substantially. Nitrogen prices are often measured basically with ammonia on the commodities market and in many key countries around the world in both developed and developing markets, ammonia prices are now back largely to their pre-Russia war level. But you actually have to get a crop into the ground, have to give it time to grow and then bring that product to market before you can actually have the full effect in terms of the end product that is consumed by people around the world. So we still have a backlog to get through, but there are promising signs.

Additionally, with the U.S. looking like it's set to potentially start easing in terms of financial policy in the next few months, we may see a reversal in terms of the U.S. dollar, and that's something that we're looking at more largely as an investment trend, but it has the opportunity to maybe mitigate some of the pressure on consumers around the globe.

Shari Friedman: Harlin, there's a lot of contributing factors beyond the war and beyond inflation and some of these venture into your world, which is sustainability. You can't lay out all the problems at the doorstep of climate change, but you can touch on where climate change and also biodiversity loss have played a role. So what are you seeing there?

Harlin Singh: Yeah, that's a great question Shari, and you well know that we can't talk about food security and food production without talking about climate. Some of what Pete and Malcolm mentioned, the geopolitical and macro environment obviously is what I think brought food security into kind of front and center front of mind for many people over the last year or so. But we know that 95% of food comes from soil and soil degradation is the result of pollution, urban expansion, long-term climate changes. All of these factors playing a huge role in terms of agricultural yields. And then there are also short-term impacts associated with climate that can be catastrophic to food security.

We saw last year the droughts and wildfires across California and Europe, flooding in Pakistan that were all due to extreme weather and changing weather patterns, and they're impacting planting season, harvesting season, so they're completely impacting yields and are a huge part of food security, especially in emerging markets.

The flip side of that is: guess what? Agriculture itself is a huge contributor to climate change and as an industry it contributes to about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. And when you add in the emissions associated with transport fertilizer distribution, you're looking at close to 35% of emissions coming from food systems. And to make matters worse, agriculture also drives 80% of biodiversity loss.

And so when we think about agriculture and the food systems as a whole, it's a threat to the stability of the earth system, which then has a knock on effect, of course, to everything else. And when we look at land use, we look at how much of the oceans are industrially fished, the amount of freshwater that's used for agriculture. Conversely, the fact that fertilizer over application and pesticide poisoning are causing a lot of issues with clean water as well and leading to everything from ocean acidification to human health concerns, it's really two sides of the same coin.

So they're both completely linked, right? Food security and climate, and this should really matter to consumers, to policymakers, to economists for a few reasons because on the back of what agriculture is causing in terms of climate, there's also a move towards pricing carbon. And so as governments start to expand their policy and reach on carbon pricing, food systems will have to find a way to decarbonize or food will just continue to get more expensive. So adding to that inflationary pressure, the cost of food production also is threatened by climate change and by some of these inflationary pressures.

About a third of topsoil is already operating at reduced productivity due to degradation, and over three quarters of global food crop relies on animal pollination. So when we think about some of those inflationary drivers and fertilizer prices - compounded by the inefficient use of it and pesticides that are having unintended consequences, we're going to continue to see that price be paid in terms of the cost of production of food. Right, I mean, you look at bees and pollinators and the incredible impact that that will have towards a loss of food production over the course of time, if we're not mindful of it, is going to be very, very significant.

And then, of course, the cost of transportation and cold chain delivery as the planet continues to warm, that's going to become a much more critical part of getting food to rural areas, you know, especially in emerging markets where we're starting to see the temperatures rise quite significantly. So I do think we need to think about these two issues, and we need to be careful when we think about solutions on how one may impact the other.

We don't want to end up creating and compounding the issue in an unintended way, especially when we think about human health, human health and solving it through addressing food crisis and nutrition, right. We also have to be careful that not everybody can afford organic food. We saw what happened in Sri Lanka when they banned the use of fertilizer. It's quite a significant impact then on a negative kind of feedback loop.

Shari Friedman: Yeah, I think that companies are really grappling right now, not just agricultural but all of them, on how do you address all of these various crises and the solutions to all of them without, kind of like a balloon, without squeezing on one and creating more pressure on the others. I've had a quick round question for you all, because I'm curious to know if you think that we are better off at this moment than we were at this moment last year in terms of agriculture and food security?

Malcolm Spittler: I think in terms of the outlook, we are in a better position because we have actually started to have the availability of a lot of these commodities coming out of Ukraine and Russia, and we've seen the kind of pinch point prices fade, but that doesn't mean that the human costs are any lower. In fact, right now the human costs are probably more acute than they were a year ago in the immediate, but, I guess, we can see the other side of the pain point.

Peter Ceretti: I think we're definitely better off in part for the reasons that Malcolm cited, right, that essentially the worst of the spike in prices and the upward trend that we saw last year in terms of international food prices has reversed. We're now seeing international prices fall and we're dealing with kind of an affordability problem rather than availability problem in terms of food supply as worldwide. It's still significant though. I mean even if international food prices are falling, the median food inflation rate around the world's about 12% right now. So it will take some time for these issues to work themselves out. But I do think we're in a better spot than we were last year.

Harlin Singh: I do think that things are better, not just from the economic standpoint, but I do think that given what's gone on in the world over the last three years, first the focus on human health and COVID and what we dealt with there and then the war that broke out, and now you know, it seems to me that over the last several years that this idea of affordability and accessibility have become much more top of mind for investors and policymakers. It's not just about the amount of food and just total calories to keep people alive, but there's certainly a great deal of focus on innovation, education, and so that makes me feel that we're in a better place because the capital is starting to flow in the right direction.

Shari Friedman: So Pete, I want to kind of go back up onto some of these larger issues and food is a globally-traded commodity. I know you track all the different markets. If you look at Pete's computer at any given time, it has a lot of different graphs all over it, but it's also a piece of human survival and food shortages have this humanitarian component and it can also create dangerous unrest in a lot of countries. You touched upon this in the paper that you wrote last year. What is the political and geopolitical impact of hunger?

Peter Ceretti: I should note that Shari contributed a good piece to that paper as well, as did many of our colleagues. Yeah, I think the key thing to watch here is the risk of unrest and ultimately change in regime in some countries and the geopolitical instability that would flow from that if we see persistent hunger around the world.

So we did see protests in 2011 that were sort of the beginning of the Arab Spring protests that in some cases were touched off by runaway food prices. We had similar events in 2007 to 2008. I don't think anything like that is on the cards over the next few months or the next year.

But it's important to note that food inflation at very high rates, particularly spikes in food inflation are associated with unrest. Typically, social scientists look at high food inflation as the straw that breaks the camel's back. If there are governance issues, if there's corruption, if there's economic malaise and a whole lot of other things going on in a country that mean that the people are suffering, right, often folks will go to the street and say, "All right, we can't even buy basic foodstuffs to feed our families. This is enough, now we go out to the street."

Shari Friedman: So it's never all that simple. It's not one factor.

Peter Ceretti: It's always multi-causal and it's hard to really predict when food inflation will be the thing that leads to protests, but it's certainly a risk factor.

Shari Friedman: So I want to move over to some solutions. And Harlin, this is probably where you live the most as an investor, looking for some of the opportunities. Could you describe some of the innovation you're seeing, both financial innovations and also technologies? What are you really excited about right now?

Harlin Singh: There's a ton of innovation going on in terms of ag tech specifically, which is focusing on improving crop yields while reducing environmental impacts. So we're seeing everything from genetic technology to precision farming, controlled environment farming such as vertical farms, improving efficiencies and supply chains, which is probably the more boring end of it, but also really interesting in terms of how much innovation is going on there as well as in transport. There's a lot going on in earlier stage companies. We're seeing a lot going on in private equity and venture.

One area I think that most listeners will be familiar with are plant-based proteins, and this is an area that I think is really ripe for disruption, because so far what we've seen is many of these products are premium products. They're not actually solving the food security issue. They're expensive, they're not available everywhere, nor have they really gone totally mainstream, even within wealthy countries. So if there's greater innovation to find scale here, we'll see decreased pressure on land and emissions reduction that will be incredibly significant and at a cheaper price point, it can also help solve some of the issues around food security.

Other areas that I think are very exciting are innovation within fertilizers, both in terms of the fertilizer itself being more sustainable, as well as the use of precision agriculture to reduce dependency on fertilizer, which also has a positive impact in terms of water contamination and soil health.

Gene editing, which is certainly an area that I think has gotten such a bad rap over the course of time, but it's also very exciting if you start to look and dig a little bit deeper. So gene editing and sequencing can not only offer better yields, for example, turning wheat into a perennial crop versus an annual crop, that would result in greater yield, but it would also use less energy and water because of the deeper roots of the crop itself. But it can also result in crops with higher nutritional content.

So when we're talking about food security, nutrition's a huge component of it, and we're starting to see that in tomatoes that have nutrients that result in lower blood pressure, for example. And the food that's produced with gene editing often doesn't face the same regulation as other genetically modified crops because a lot of that editing or a lot of those changes could also occur naturally. So that's an area that I think will be exciting. I mean, it's still quite nascent and not quite investible for the mainstream investor.

And then going back to regenerative farming and project finance that's starting to turn either land that's been over farmed or that's just not being productive at all to bring back health to that land using methods such as crop rotation and grazing animals to naturally maintain that soil health.

I think that's a really exciting area as well when we start to think about the investment landscape. I was actually not too long ago researching a sugar farm and sugar, obviously not necessarily the crop that comes first to mind when we're thinking about food security, but what the farm was doing was really interesting and a really great example of the innovation within farming.

And motivated by actually financial results and profitability, they implemented GPS trackers to allow them to apply fertilizer in a much more targeted manner to reduce their costs. It improved their environmental impact. They also were very careful about maintaining soil health, so built a laboratory to really analyze the soil on an annual basis, introducing new crops and rotating them to maintain optimal nutrient levels that resulted in better and healthier sugar cane, also improved the soil, which is an incredible carbon sink.

They had an issue with rats, and I kind of laugh when I say this because I live in New York City. They had an issue with rats, which they were treating with rodenticide, but then found that barn owls actually can do the trick, are much cheaper and a much healthier way to let nature run its course.

Think about how all of these components have not only improved the sustainability attributes, but also improved profitability for the company. So when we think about kind of exciting areas for investment, it's both how companies operate their existing businesses as well as what that exact innovation is that helps to achieve the results that we need to achieve in terms of food security.

Shari Friedman: This is a really interesting mix between the technical and the totally non-technical. So you've got crop rotation and barn owls, and then you have digital precision farming and gene editing. It's like it's completely, you're just running the spectrum on the mad scientists versus the farmer. So Malcolm following what Harlin is saying, what does this mean for the bigger picture? How are you thinking about food as an economist and as an investment strategist?

Malcolm Spittler: Well, it's always dangerous to ask an economist about food. We have a long history of being very, very depressing. Going back to Thomas Malthus with his amazing insight that was true for the entirety of human history until basically the moment he was alive, which was basically that the land's productivity grew with a number of acres under cultivation and population was growing exponentially.

And so he saw this as a formula for perennial starvation. We have shown for the last 200 years that that is not the fate of humanity, and that has been a wonderful thing to prove incorrect. But perhaps most excitingly, we are now seeing global population growth slow meaningfully. The global population is now growing at about a half percent a year in that ballpark. We haven't peaked. The number of people is growing very quickly in terms of numbers because the base level is so high, but the growth rate is much smaller than it has been in the past.

Even as recently as 1960, the global growth rate of population was 2%. So that's four times as fast. Well, that means you have to double the amount of food you produce globally much, much more quickly. So with this lower population growth, we actually can sort of see the target of having enough food for everyone and having food security in a way I think that is fundamentally new for humans.

I mean, the fact that we are having a conversation about how to make everyone on the planet food secure is something that would've been unthinkable in any century in the past. And now we feel bad because we have stepped back and we have these recent crises that have exacerbated the problem, but in the thrust of history, we are making very, very good progress. So looking at this a little bit more granularly, there are some major challenges. Harlin articulated the fact that we are going to be needing to solve this food security issue in the context of global warming, in the context of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels.

Well, for the last 110 years, fossil fuels have been the beating heart of increasing food production through the Haber-Bosch process and the creation of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. It's been estimated that about half of the calories that are consumed by everyone in the world is coming from nitrogen that was fixed with the Haber-Bosch process. We need a system that isn't fed on natural gas. The good news is we now have technologies that are capable of fixing nitrogen using just electricity as an input and not using natural gas. The flip side is they're not currently economical.

So this becomes not a question of what or how, but how to afford it and where can the money go that will drive the innovation that will put those things within reach. I think it's safe to say that we have gotten very good at scaling things up as a species and making something that seemed impossible, not only possible, but easy. And so I have great hope that we will be seeing the Haber-Bosch process as being this kind of wonderful thing that allowed us to not have mass starvation in the 20th century, but something that we move beyond relatively early in the 21st century.

And as Harlin articulated, the ability to use less nitrogen in the form of fertilizers through targeted ag has the ability to shrink the kind of runoff problem and the problems that happen in the global drown stream from all of agriculture, that is happening absolutely everywhere, and that can be curtailed by this sort of smart agriculture.

I also want to note one last thing, which is globally the number of rural inhabitants according to the UN has peaked and is now in actual decline. This means around the world there will be fewer people to be available for farm labor. As we've seen in the developed world, this meant a radical shift between capital and labor as the productive potency that drove farming. And this is going to be both the key to producing enough food to feed the world, but also to be able to produce enough food cheaply to feed the world. And it's always a complicated thing, but there is this idea that we can substitute in for a lot of the least productive labor where people do not have access to the tools and the know-how, and we can actually bring a lot of land into more productive and perhaps less damaged use. I see this as a moment of optimism. There are a lot of big changes that are coming, but a lot of them are problems that will be solved by targeted investment in this space.

Shari Friedman: Pete, Malcolm noted that we have the potential to actually solve the food security problems. So where does politics and geopolitics come into here? What are the solutions in that area that might help us more toward having global food security? And another point that we haven't really touched upon is, are the G7 countries doing enough to help developing nations?

Peter Ceretti: So I think from a geopolitical perspective, we do need to see more of a partnership and more leadership from wealthy countries like the G7 in supporting developing countries, in being able to produce enough food cheaply enough for their populations. There's a list of things that we could potentially do better, but let me run through a few of these that I think are most important.

One would be supporting smallholder farmers. This is really important because there's a big overlap in terms of the smallholder farmer population around the world and the extremely poor population around the world. So if you support smallholder farmers, you're effectively targeting a large proportion of the population that is least able to afford food as well. A related point is that we need to do more to support agricultural production closer to the countries that need food and that are large net food importers rather than outsourcing food aid to the most efficient producers.

It made a lot of sense for the World Food Program to buy an awful lot of wheat from Ukraine prior to the war, but we saw that a geopolitical event or some sort of unexpected disruption can mean that if all of our eggs are in one basket, then countries that are going hungry, like Yemen, can't get enough wheat at the prices that they should be able to pay for those things. We need to diversify a little bit and begin to support agriculture closer to the countries that need help in terms of food.

Innovation is a really, really important one. And so this means investing in technologies like climate smart agriculture or regenerative agriculture as Harlin was saying. The efficiency gains that we could see here are really critical, and this isn't necessarily a sexy thing from a global innovation standpoint, but investment in agricultural technologies is really critical, as Malcolm said, right? We need to find a cleaner, more efficient way to make fertilizer and perhaps also to make fertilizers that want to plant in a targeted way, and two are less polluting.

Reducing waste is really critical. Again, not necessarily a sexy topic, but something like a third of the food that's produced for human consumption around the world goes to waste. The last point that I think is really critical for wealthy countries to look at when they think about development aid and supporting developing countries is to think beyond number of calories. Harlin mentioned this before and she hit the nail on the head, there are countries where number of calories and food related distress are the issue, but there are many others where it's sort of poor diets or insufficient diversification in terms of the micronutrients that people are getting that are the issue. So making sure not just that people are fed enough, but also that they get proper nutrition is really key.

Shari Friedman: What do you all say to investors in this space? What is one thing to be excited about and one thing to look out for that people might not be seeing?

Harlin Singh: I'm going to come back to something Pete just said actually around food waste. I think not only is it not typically very interesting to talk about, but it is a critical component of meeting that need or that demand, expected demand, increased demand for food. And also, it's not just an issue for food security, but food waste is a huge contributor of methane gas, which is 25 times more potent than CO2. So when we're thinking about it in terms of the linkages with climate, coming back to your earlier question, Shari, it's an incredibly important piece to tackle. And by the way, most of the food waste is not coming because your kids are not finishing the food on their plate. It's because we're actually losing a lot of food just going from the farm to the supermarket because of cosmetic food waste. So it's a huge, huge problem.

And then just in terms of what I think investors should really start to think about in this space, particularly in my world, which is working with high net worth individuals and family offices, is that there are many pools of capital that can be used to influence progress in addressing food security, so everything from taking traditional pay for success models that are historically seen as kind of being more philanthropy like or more private placements. We're seeing these show up now in securitized models. We saw one last year in wildlife conservation, and I think that these will start to play a more critical role in terms of capital allocation.

So it doesn't always have to be venture, but we can start to think more creatively about how liquid markets can be used as a tool as well. And then really thinking about how philanthropy, public funding, policy and advocacy all play a role in tackling some of these large issues. It's not just one thing or one part of an investor's pool of influence call it, but it can certainly be something that can be complimented through a variety of different ways.

Peter Ceretti: What I'd like to talk about is sort of the story that Malcolm alluded to, that if you're going to invest in food and agriculture, at a surface level, it may not seem like the sexiest newest thing, but this is the ultimate productivity story. This is an area where innovation and productivity literally saved us as a human population from going hungry decades ago. This is the ultimate success story in terms of what people have been able to do in terms of getting more productive. And we need to keep that investment flowing to come up with better ways to do this so that everyone is fed within the constraints of what the planet is able to bear.

Malcolm Spittler: I guess the threat and the opportunity I see for investors is the same. It's that disruption is real. Basically, we have now 110 years of dependence on one technological breakthrough at the beginning of the 20th century that freed us from mining bat guano off of islands in the South Pacific. We are now living in the 21st century. Everything else has changed, and yet we are still dependent on this same chemical process that came about before our grandparents were born. The moment we have an economically viable alternative, we will see a radical reduction in the global demand for natural gas. We will see dramatic shifts in who are the major players in the fertilizer market, and it will have ripple effects around the globe.

So that is both the cause for great optimism, but also for caution in terms of portfolios that are currently invested in areas that have been successful on the back of that now long in the tooth technology. So disruption is always the force that we hear about these days, but it is just as true in something as seemingly traditional as agriculture as it is in the high tech space.

Shari Friedman: So food loss innovations, productivity, and disruption, those are the things that investors are going to need to look out for. Harlin Singh, Global Head of Sustainable Investing, and Malcolm Spittler, Global Investment Strategist and Senior U.S. Economist, both from Citi Global Wealth, thank you.

Harlin Singh: Thank you for having me.

Malcolm Spittler: Thank you for having this great conversation.

Shari Friedman: And thanks to Pete Ceretti, Director of Global Macro Geo Strategy at Eurasia Group.

Peter Ceretti: Thank you, Shari.

Shari Friedman: And that's it for this episode of Living Beyond Borders. Check out all this season's episodes by heading to and click on the Living Beyond Borders tab. Or you can find episodes on the GZERO World podcast feed wherever you get your podcasts. For GZERO, I'm Shari Friedman. Thanks for listening..

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