Conflict and the Impact on the Global Food Supply
A key concern for dietitians is the ability of the food system to feed people and then for people to have adequate access to food (1). This concern is amplified during times of war and conflict, especially for those most directly impacted. There are considerable health and safety implications, including access to life-sustaining food and water.
In addition to the impact of those directly affected, there is an impact on the global food supply. The PEN Team thought a brief overview on how global food prices are impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be helpful to practitioners as you may get questions from clients related to our food supply. We have also provided additional content on the topic from a variety of sources.
Food Price Increases
Food price increases, particularly for vegetable oils and dairy products, are already affecting consumers globally (2,3), and Russia’s attack on Ukraine threatens the global food supply, resulting in further food inflation. Based on information from the Financial Post (3), key threats are:
- access to shipment of some of the world’s staple crops, mainly wheat and corn and some soybeans
- Ukraine and Russia together account for more than a 1/4 of wheat and a 1/5 of corn sales in global trade.
- One estimate is that this may drive up prices by 20% (corn) to 30% (wheat).
- disruption in global trade access to fertilizers
- Russia is a major exporter of most kinds of lower cost fertilizer.
Other factors affecting food prices include (3):
- extreme weather, making it harder to grow crops
- a shortage of workers
- higher shipping costs due to snarled supply chains.
- Dietitians of Canada. Addressing household food insecurity in Canada: position statement and recommendations. Executive Summary. 2016. Available from: https://www.dietitians.ca/DietitiansOfCanada/media/Documents/Resources/HFI-Executive-Summary-Dietitians-of-Canada-FINAL.pdf?ext=.pdf
- FAO. FAO Food price index rises to record high in February. 2022 Mar 4. Available from: https://www.fao.org/newsroom/detail/fao-food-price-index-rises-to-record-high-in-february/en
- Elkins E, Smith AN. 'The sky’s the limit’: food inflation to worsen on war in Ukraine. Bloomberg News. Financial Post. 2022 Feb 25. Available from: https://financialpost.com/news/economy/the-skys-the-limit-food-inflation-to-worsen-on-war-in-ukraine