Wheat is on the verge of rotting in Ukraine’s warehouses. Piles of it have been stuck in storage since Russia invaded in February and imposed a blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, from where the bulk of wheat is exported. This immediately disrupted global wheat exports from the two countries, which together provide 30% of world supply, and completely cut off Ukraine’s 9% share.
The blockade sparked global panic about where to buy wheat, particularly in countries in north Africa and the Middle East which rely on grain imports from the region and already face food shortages on top of economic and climate crises. Global wheat prices soared.
Ukraine lags behind China, the US, Canada and India in its wheat production but most of the harvests from these countries are consumed locally. With large wheat reserves, India initially appeared best placed as an alternative global supplier after the invasion, but the government said it is prioritising its own population after an intense heatwave damaged some of this year’s harvests.