How the War in Ukraine Threatens the World’s Food Supply

As Russia enters week two of its Ukraine invasion, the world has been turned upside down. Not only are gas and oil prices soaring as thousands of soldiers and civilians die, but the global economy is also teetering on the edge of disaster.

With leading experts warning this war will have a huge negative impact on the world economy, it’s important to keep in mind something specific about Ukraine.

Ukraine has fertile soil and is historically known as the “world’s breadbasket.” People around the world eat cereal, bread, and many food products that are sourced in Ukraine.

This war is interrupting that food supply, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Ukraine is Key to the World’s Food Supply

In addition to the horrible human toll and the danger of nuclear escalation, Russia’s shelling and assaults on Ukraine are stopping its ability to export vast amounts of grain that go to Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Ukraine isn’t known as the world’s breadbasket for nothing. Ukrainian-sourced wheat goes around the world into everything from food for livestock to bread products, cereals, noodles, and many other grain-based products.

Now that farmers are running for their lives and ports and roads aren’t shipping that grain, there are huge concerns. Russia’s economy has also stalled under heavy western sanctioning, leading to worries its grain exports could also shut down.

Prices have already gone up more than 60% on grain and it’s getting worse. Shortages are likely to start by this summer if the war continues; consumers in many nations, including America, can expect even higher prices.

How Big a Deal is This?

Russia and Ukraine provide 30% of the world’s wheat and barley.

Ukraine is also a huge supplier of the world’s corn and sunflower oil. If the flow continues to be interrupted, or Russia also stops exporting, there’s going to be not enough food in many parts of the world and skyrocketing prices.

Take a country like Egypt, which is the biggest wheat exporter on the planet. Millions buy bread at a low price from Ukraine and could starve without it.

Lebanon is another example. Its main port and shipping facilities already got totaled in a 2020 explosion. It’s going through an economic and political collapse as well and now has to find a way to replace the 60% of grain it usually gets from Ukraine.

All across Africa, countries are also worried about the future, with places like Nigeria unsure where they will be able to source reliable grain products from going forward.

Although Asia relies more heavily on rice as a staple, Asian countries are also severely at risk, due to this food issue.

The Bottom Line

War is a human and economic tragedy. The invasion of Ukraine is going to kill far more people than just those in the line of fire.