Ukraine and the Looming World Food Crisis

Food supply disruptions from Ukraine will impact the world's poorest countries worst.

Michael J McManus

4/14/2022 1 min read

Russia and Ukraine provide disproportionate amounts of grain and corn to the world. Over 25% of the world’s supply comes from those two countries. But there are some parts of the world that especially depend on this supply, especially, poor countries in Africa and the Middle East. When food prices shift, especially in poor countries, there are major political consequences. This is going to be especially bad given the war has disrupted flows and is making food increasingly expensive.

For example Egypt gets over 80% of its grain from Russia and Ukraine, 60 of that 80 from Russia alone. Food prices in Egypt in 2007-8 ended up triggering social unrest that led to the Arab Spring rebellion on 2010. So if food prices caused a revolution in Egypt last time, what do we think there is a risk of this time as well? In fact just this week food bound for Lebanon from Ukraine was found to have spoiled in the journey, and Lebanon cannot afford a replacement shipment. Given Lebanon’s unstable situation, proximity to Syria and relationship with Iran. This food supply shortage could prove explosive.

Similarly many Sub-Saharan African countries rely on Russian and Ukrainian food supplies. Any shortage here could trigger famines, unrest and violence. Africa, which relies heavily on Russian food is also, worryingly, unstable at the best of times, and a world food supply crisis is hardly going to be the best of times. Unrest in Africa and the Middle East brought on by food supply crises is going to have global consequences.

The effect in developed countries like the US is more costs at the supermarket. But the effect on the developing world, especially the already vulnerable and volatile Africa and Middle East will be far, far worse. And the consequences will touch the whole world

Liked this article? For even more detailed and deep analysis, why not subscribe to our Substack? You get one weekly inbox report with all the information you need. Subscribe here.