Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupts already precarious global food security

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Shelves of staple products are empty at an ATB Shop in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

During the pandemic, food prices were already high. Then came the war in Ukraine. Just this week, the United Nations food chief warned the war could devastate the World Food Programme with an impact beyond “anything we’ve seen since World War II.” The U.N. program feeds 125 million people globally by directly procuring food such as wheat and providing cash grants to meet basic needs.

Siobhan McDonough, a reporter for Vox, writes about how Russia’s invasion has shaken the global food chain. She explains that even before the war started, the price of food globally has increased to levels not seen since 2011. Droughts, supply chain disruptions, and fuel prices have all wreaked havoc on the global food system. Russia and Ukraine supply roughly 20% of the world’s wheat and also export sunflower seed oil, barley, fertilizer, and more. The Middle East, Northern Africa, and Southeast Asia — areas that already have high rates of food insecurity — are the top importers of wheat from Russia and Ukraine.