Will the Russia-Ukraine War Cause Global Food Shortages? It’s Complicated
As the invasion of Ukraine continues, agricultural supply disruptions are impacting harvests and global fertilizer production are causing spikes in food prices, transportation and more. But can other countries provide relief?
Russia and Ukraine account for roughly 30% of global wheat exports, and Russia is the top fertilizer exporter worldwide. Both countries have suspended exports of these and other food staples, leading the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to estimate as much as a 20% surge in food prices, increasing risks of global food insecurity.
And where there’s food insecurity, there’s political instability. Surging prices have led to protests in countries like Sudan, which imports more than 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. And in Iraq and Greece, hundreds of farmers demonstrated against soaring fertilizer prices.
But as crop scientist Sarah Taber pointed out in a recent MSNBC interview, “The shortfall from Ukraine and Russia is projected to be about 7 million tons, which sounds like a lot, but India alone is set to export 4 to 6 million tons more than last year. So almost just increased exports from India are set to cover that.” Additionally, many wheat-exporting countries – including the U.S., Canada and Australia – began preparing for potential shortages last fall with increased crop production that is now set to be harvested.
“There’s some crazy bubble action going on that the crop prices are going up but not nearly to the levels we’re seeing from Wall Street,” Taber continued. “The prices of trading are not reflecting reality and they’re not reflecting what people experienced in crop trade are going along with, so that’s interesting to watch.”