Surging food prices caused by Covid-19, extreme weather and Russia’s invasion on Ukraine
Firstly, let's acknowledge the suffering of the people of Ukraine. It’s breaking our hearts. Writing about spiking food prices in the shadow of this horrible crisis feels a bit…small. But it is significant and something to be aware of.
Big effects on the global supply chain
Food prices have been going up for quite a while. The pandemic is one big factor. Due to lockdowns and staff shortages there have been large disruptions to the global supply chain. On top of that, many parts of the world have been struggling with extreme weather conditions. All those things have had different effects on the supply chains. So let’s say, we didn’t start out with the best conditions when Russia decided to brutally attack Ukraine in February 2022.
Both Russia and Ukraine are big producers of grain, mostly wheat. Russia grows about 10% of all the wheat in the world. Ukraine grows about 4%. Of course not all of it was exported, but together they have been providing about ¼ of all the planet’s wheat exports.
The war most likely means that spring crops in Ukraine will go unplanted and the Russian crops face sanctions and embargo. It has also made the insurance costs jump for all shipping in the Black Sea. To top it off, Russia and its ally Belarus were also top exporters of fertilisers that other food growing countries used for their crops. The sanctions against Russia also means that fuel prices are surging as well, and that also means, you guessed it - higher food prices.
Will hit hardest on the poor
While parts of the world live in abundance, food wise, other parts have been struggling way before the pandemic proverbially hit the fan back in 2020. This crisis will hit hard on countries that mostly depend on imported food. In some European countries and the US, an average person spends about 6-10% of their income on food. While other countries spend almost 60% of their income on food. For these people the food price inflation will be catastrophic.
No one knows where this is going. What we do know is that this war needs to stop. Climate change needs to be taken seriously and please please, let’s hope that the pandemic is taking its last breath soon.
Here are some initiatives taken by our friends in the food industry in support of and in solidarity with Ukraine
- Coop in Sweden lets you donate your collected points and turns them into money for Unicef's work on site.
- Asda is sending a £1m package to support displaced Ukrainian families in Europe and the UK as the refugee crisis grows.
- Swedish food retailer ICA donated 10 million SEK to the Red Cross and urges you to donate as well.
In these times we all need to give what we can and seeing people and companies doing their bit, makes us feel a little more hopeful.
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