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Page added on April 2, 2022

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How War, Oil and Ships Are Building a Hunger Crisis

Consumption

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, food prices had been rising around the world, driven by the higher shipping costs, energy inflation and labor shortages that have followed in the pandemic’s wake, along with extreme weather. Global food prices are at all-time highs, with a benchmark UN index soaring more than 40% over the past two years. War in one of the world’s major breadbaskets, plus the sanctions imposed on Russia and measures taken by some countries to protect their own food supply have raised the threat of a full-blown hunger crisis. Here are some of the factors at work.

The war in Ukraine initially slowed key agricultural supplies that the Black Sea region ships to world markets, from wheat to vegetable oil to fertilizer, as Ukraine’s ports were shuttered and vessels stayed away. Sales remain tepid out of Ukraine, and the spring plantings remain in doubt as war engulfs the country’s farmlands. Growers in Ukraine are plunging ahead wherever possible, but ongoing fighting may mean crops won’t get planted or harvests of other crops already sown may suffer. A major Ukraine food exporter, MHP SE, pivoted to supplying the Ukrainian army and civilians in bombed-out cities. On the other hand, Russia’s wheat shipments bounced back, with some of the grain exported to countries that usually imported from Ukraine

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