Russia’s war on Ukraine sets the stage for worst food crisis in decades – by Jason Kirby (Globe and Mail – March 14, 2022)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roiled commodity markets and set the stage for the worst food crisis in decades, one that risks not just sharply higher prices at grocery stores but the spread of social unrest around the globe.

Russia and Ukraine make up a quarter of global wheat exports, and are near the top of the production list when it comes to other agricultural goods such as barley, corn, potatoes, sunflowers and sugar beets.

Food shipments from the two countries have already ground to a halt, sending shock waves through commodity markets. Wheat futures in Chicago were up by 70 per cent this year at the start of last week before tumbling. They remain up 40 per cent from mid-February.

The collapse in grain supplies, sparked by both the war and Western retaliatory sanctions, have led to fears of shortages in countries that depend heavily on wheat from the region. Egypt, which draws more than two-thirds of its wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine, imposed its own ban on the export of food staples such as flour and lentils last week.

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