Soaring Wheat Prices and Shortages: How Ukraine’s Invasion is Affecting the World’s Food Supply

As the world watches closely the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one thing is certain as we wonder what will happen next. Historically high food prices will only rise.

With further disruptions to the agricultural supply chain, compounded by climate change-related drought and low crop yields, consumers must prepare for what could be unprecedented levels of global food insecurity.

Several outlets reported how far this problem could stretch: Bloomberg covered waves of panic in Turkey over an anticipated shortage of sunflower oil, a household staple in the West Asian country. The journalists also spoke to a Turkish official, who revealed that a total of 18 commercial vessels were held up in Russian ports. This follows a worrying trend of inflation in Turkey, with costs of everything from food to energy hitting their highest level in 20 years.

RELATED: Ukrainian President Zelensky begs Biden for help

In Egypt and other neighboring countries like Lebanon, where subsidized bread is essential for survival, rising wheat prices are already a concern.

“Russia and Ukraine combine for nearly a third of world wheat and barley exports. Ukraine is also a major supplier of corn and the world leader in sunflower oil, used in processing food,” reported the Associated Press. “The war could reduce food supplies just as prices are at their highest level since 2011.”

Want more food writing and recipes? Subscribe to the Home and kitchen tool Food newsletter.

In fact, the region surrounding the Black Sea is so crucial to the world’s food supply that it’s been dubbed the “breadbasket of the world.” This means that the already growing list of trade disruptions could spell disaster for impoverished regions of Europe, Asia and Africa.

It is only a matter of time before these constraints affect the availability of these goods. Arnaud Petit, Director of the International Grains Council Recount The Associated Press that a prolonged war in Ukraine could lead to shortages of goods such as wheat as early as July.

Even though production can start sooner, there are no quick fixes for wasted time and crops left unattended when farmers have abandoned their jobs to join the army or flee to safety. Whatever the outcome, these mounting economic and social pressures are poised to squeeze consumers even further.

Read more: