Global Grain Prices Rebound After Black Sea Grain Deal Collapses

tendata blogTrade Trends News

ten data blog08-08-2023

global food prices,food prices increase,global food market

Global food prices rose last month after Russia pulled out of an agreement to allow safe passage for ships carrying grain from Ukrainian ports.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Friday that the global food price index rose 1.3 percent in July from the previous month, the second increase in a year of steady declines since the food deal was reached.

The monthly index, which tracks a range of food commodities, is still down nearly 12 percent from July 2022, but Russia's decision to pull out of the U.N.-backed deal pushed up prices for grains and sunflower oil.

The deal has been renewed three times, but Russia has repeatedly threatened to pull out, saying it is being hampered in exporting its own products. Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin made good on those threats and said the main purpose of the deal - to supply food to countries in need - "has not yet been realized."

Putin said last week that Russia could replace Ukraine in exporting grain to "the most needy African countries", adding that free shipments would be made to six countries, including Somalia and Eritrea, over the next four months.

Vegetable oils in focus

The agency said the rebound in the food price index was driven by a 12 percent year-on-year increase in the price of vegetable oils, partly due to higher global crude oil prices. The price of vegetable oil may be affected by crude oil because it is used in the production of biofuels.

In a statement, the FAO said, "International sunflower oil prices rebounded by more than 15% YoY, mainly due to renewed uncertainty over exportable supplies from the Black Sea region."

Ukraine is by far the largest exporter of sunflower oil, accounting for 46% of world exports, according to the UN.

Concerns about declining palm oil production in Southeast Asia, as well as soybean and canola oil production in North America, also boosted prices, the agency said.

The FAO's global wheat price index - which incorporates its broader food price index - rose 1.6% in July from a year earlier, the first monthly increase in nine months.

Russian attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure have also contributed to price increases in recent weeks since the breakdown of the food deal. Both countries make significant contributions to global supply.

Still, wheat prices are down 46% since February 2022, when they hit record highs following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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Risk of hunger

Since the outbreak of war last February, the Black Sea Initiative has played an important role in stabilizing global food markets, especially for poorer countries that are more dependent on the region's food supply.

Before the war, Ukraine was the world's fifth-largest wheat exporter, accounting for 10 percent of exports, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Ukraine is also one of the world's top three exporters of barley, corn and rapeseed oil, according to agricultural data firm Gro Intelligence.

The agreement allows for the export of nearly 33 million tons of food through Ukrainian ports, according to U.N. data.

About 80 percent of East Africa's food is exported from Russia and Ukraine, and more than 50 million people in East Africa are facing hunger," Shashwat Saraf, the International Rescue Committee's regional emergency director for East Africa, said in a statement in early July. The government's response has been to the effect that the country's food supply has been reduced.

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