The $120 Billion Global Grain Trade Is Being Redrawn by Russia’s War in Ukraine – by Megan Durisin, Pratik Parija and Irina Anghel (Bloomberg News – April 5, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — Across Ukraine’s farm belt, silos are bursting with 15 million tons of corn from the autumn harvest, most of which should have been hitting world markets. The stockpiles — about half the corn Ukraine had been expected to export for the season — have become increasingly difficult to get to buyers, providing a glimpse into the turmoil Russia’s war has wrought in the approximately $120 billion global grains trade.

Already gummed up by supply-chain bottlenecks, skyrocketing freight rates and weather events, markets are bracing for more upheavals as deliveries from Ukraine and Russia — which together account for about a quarter of the world’s grains trade — turn increasingly complicated and raise the specter of food shortages.

Before Russia’s attack, Ukraine’s corn would have made its way to Black Sea ports like Odesa and Mykolaiv by rail and loaded on to ships bound for Asia and Europe. But with the ports shuttered, small amounts of corn are creakily winding their way westward by rail through Romania and Poland before being shipped out.

An added aggravation: wheels on the wagons have to be changed at the border because unlike European rails, Ukrainian train-cars run on wider, Soviet-era tracks. “Railways are not supposed to go that way with the grain,” Kateryna Rybachenko, deputy chair of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, said in an interview. “This makes the whole logistics very expensive and inefficient, and also very slow. Logistically, it’s a big problem.”

For the rest of this article: