© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The turret of a destroyed armored fighting vehicle is seen in a wheat field outside the town of Ichnia in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region on June 7, 2022, as the Russian attack on Ukraine continues. REUTERS/Vladyslav Musiienko/File Photo
PARIS (Reuters) – The U.N. food agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday that a stall in wheat exports due to the war in Ukraine will keep global prices high in 2022/23, putting millions at risk of malnutrition.
Russia and Ukraine are the world’s No. 1 and No. 5 wheat exporters, accounting for 20% and 10% of global sales, respectively, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the closure of the Azov and Black Seas all but halted exports.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) say Ukraine’s grain exports account for only 20 percent of capacity because alternative channels such as rail and road are less efficient than sea routes.
FAO/OECD forecasts suggest that if Ukraine completely loses its export capacity, wheat prices in 2022/23 could be 19% higher than pre-war levels, and if Russian exports are cut in half, wheat prices could rise 34% . The 2022/23 season kicks off in the northern hemisphere on 1 July.
Introducing the FAO/OECD Agriculture Outlook 2022-2031, OECD Secretary-General Matthias Coleman said: “With food security already under pressure, the consequences will be dire, especially for the most vulnerable group.”
The European Commission said last month that some 20 million tonnes of grain must leave Ukraine by the end of next month to make room for this year’s crops and avoid food shortages in Africa. Diplomatic talks are underway to open up an alternative sea route.
In a separate study, FAO said that if Russian exports were affected, the number of undernourished people globally would increase by about 1 percent in 2022/23, equivalent to about 8 to 13 million people, depending on the assumed severity of the decline in exports.
Modelling a scenario in which Ukraine and Russia continue to experience severe export shortages in 2022/23 and 2023/24, and assuming no response in global production, suggests an increase of nearly 19 million people undernourished in 2023/24.
(In paragraph 2, it is specified that Russia is the largest exporter of wheat)