RUSSIA,UKRAINE: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is threatening shockwaves through two of the world’s staple grain markets, prompting countries that rely on imports from the region to start seeking alternative supplies and heightening concerns about global food inflation and hunger. Grain exports from Russia will probably be on hold for at least the next couple of weeks, the local association said on Friday, after turmoil erupted in the Black Sea. Ukrainian ports have been closed since Thursday.
That means the war has temporarily cut off a breadbasket that accounts for more than a quarter of global wheat trade and nearly a fifth of corn. Major importers are already looking at their options to buy from elsewhere, and prices for both grains have swung wildly in the past two days.
The disruptions come at a time when global crop prices have already soared to records, while global hunger has surged dramatically in the past two years.
“There will be a big impact with respect to wheat prices and prices of bread for ordinary people,” World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said Friday. Russia and Ukraine supply crops to a long list of countries around the world, including large volumes to buyers in the Middle East and Africa, who will have to look elsewhere and probably pay more for both the grain itself and the cost of shipping. Egypt, the top wheat importer, had scheduled a tender on Thursday but canceled it after only receiving one offer — of French wheat. “It is difficult to plan any transactions at the moment,” said Eduard Zernin, the head of the Russian Union of Grain Exporters. “I think it might take a couple of weeks.”