Food prices rise 13% worldwide to a record high amid the Ukraine war

Global food prices hit record highs in March as exports from Russia and Ukraine — the world’s biggest grain producers — were mostly stuck in those countries.

The United Nations said on Friday that its food price index rose nearly 13% from February to March as wheat, barley, corn, oats and sunflower oil were in short supply due to Ukraine’s six-week war.

Russia and Ukraine account for 30% and 20% of global wheat and corn shipments, respectively.

The United Nations Food Agriculture Organization said feed prices could rise by as much as 20%, which in turn could lead to malnutrition in countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

In parts of central and west Africa, war has already aggravated a fragile food ecosystem.

A man carrying a sack of grain on his shoulder.
Some countries could face malnutrition as grain becomes too expensive and scarce.
A wheat meadow.
Russia and Ukraine account for almost a third of the world’s grain supply.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Food and nutrition security in the region is deteriorating sharply,” said Sib Ollo, senior researcher for WFO’s West and Central African regions, adding that six million children and nearly 16 million people in urban areas are malnourished from food insecurity threatened.

The agency’s grain price index rose a record-breaking 17% in March, while the vegetable oil index surged a record-breaking 23%.

The FAO also lowered its forecast for global wheat production this year to 784 million tons from 790 million in March, because it believes 20% of Ukraine’s winter crop may not be harvested this year.

A Ukrainian woman carrying her belongings among the rubble of a destroyed building.
The six-week war in Ukraine has almost halted exports of wheat, corn, barley and oats from Russia and Ukraine.

Other major grain-producing countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Australia and Argentina, are trying to ramp up production to fill supply chain gaps.

But Russia is a large producer of fertilizers produced in the Black Sea region, and these supplies are also unavailable to farmers. Food prices rise 13% worldwide to a record high amid the Ukraine war


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