In early April, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated that world food prices had reached a new all-time high. Such dynamics was associated with shocks in the markets of vegetable oils and grains due to the situation in Ukraine. Food prices in the world in March rose by 33.6% in annual terms. In the past three years, Russia and Ukraine accounted for about 30% of world wheat exports and 20% of world corn exports. Prices for wheat alone soared 19.7%.
Ukraine is one of the world leaders in grain export. According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service report, Ukrainian suppliers account for approximately 10% of global wheat exports and 14% of corn exports in the current 2021-2022 season.
The situation is so complicated that even the President of the United States Joe Biden speaks about it, who literally stated the following: “There are 20 million tons of grain in storage in Ukraine. We are now trying to figure out how to get them out of the country. It will lower prices all over the world…”
At the same time, the European Union is already finalizing a plan for the overland export of Ukrainian food, writes Bloomberg. Now these products cannot be taken out of Ukraine due to the Russian naval blockade.
The strategy will deal with technical issues to accelerate the supply of the main export commodities - vegetable oils, corn and wheat.
All these complexities point to the growing threat of famine around the world, which German Economy Minister Schulze has already warned about, listing the reasons for this prospect: drought, the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine. According to the World Food Program, 300 million people already suffer from hunger in the world, and this number will only increase further.
“The message is that we could face the worst famine since World War II and millions of victims”, - Schulze said. Earlier, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the world could face a food crisis. He called for the return of fertilizers and products from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to world markets.
It should be added that the situation with this year's harvest is extremely difficult in Ukraine. And the point here is not only in hostilities directly in the territories where crops are grown, but also in the fact that the production process itself is interrupted: there is not enough fuel, ports do not work, traffic on railways and roads is extremely complicated ... Network analyst Anatoly Nesmiyan warns: “Therefore, the export of grain from the past crop may suddenly become a problem for Ukraine itself – but will it have enough food in the future? Do not forget that more than a third of the elevators are located directly in the combat zone, that is, in addition to the unclear prospects for the harvest, there is still no clearer picture of its storage. In fact, the export of grain now can trigger a delayed famine, or at least a food shortage in the near future..."