World food prices surge 13% to record high amid Ukraine war

World food prices surge 13% to record high amid Ukraine war

Worldwide food prices hit a record high in March as exports from Russia and Ukraine – the world’s largest grain producers – are largely stuck in those countries.

The United Nations said Friday that its food price index jumped nearly 13% from February to March, with wheat, barley, corn, oats and sunflower oil in short supply because of the six week-old war in Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine account for 30% and 20% of global wheat and corn supplies, respectively.

The UN’s Food Agriculture Organization said that feed prices could rise as much as 20%, which in turn could cause malnutrition in countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

In parts of Central and West Africa the war has already exacerbated a fragile food eco-system.

A man carrying a bag of grains on his shoulder.
Some countries could face malnutrition as grains become too expensive and scarce.
A wheat meadow.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly one third of the world’s grain supplies.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“There is a sharp deterioration of the food and nutrition security in the region,” said Sib Ollo, senior researcher for the West and Central African regions of the WFO , adding that six million children are malnourished and nearly 16 million people in urban areas are at risk of food insecurity.

The agency’s cereal price index rose by a record 17% in March while its vegetable oil index rocketed by a record 23%. 

The FAO also cut its projection of world wheat production this year to 784 million tons from 790 million in March because it believes that that 20% of Ukraine’s winter crop might not be harvested this year.

A Ukrainian woman carrying her belongings amid the rubble of a destroyed building.
The six week-old war in Ukraine has nearly halted exports of wheat, corn, barley and oats from Russia and Ukraine.

Other large grain producing countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Australia and Argentina are trying to ramp up production to fill in the gaps in the supply chain.

But Russia is a big producer of fertilizer, which is produced in the Black Sea region and those supplies are also not available to farmers. 

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