Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to impact global food supply

Inflation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues continue to affect the world, but it has also been adversely impacted by the cutoff of Russia and Ukraine from global markets, especially in the food and energy sectors.

For consumers, prices have already been high as a result of the pandemic, shipping constraints and recent weather disasters. The war has further driven up prices because a crucial portion of the world’s supply of wheat, corn and barley is produced in Russia and Ukraine.

Over the past five years, Russia and the Ukraine have together accounted for almost 30% of the exports of the world’s wheat, 17% of corn, 32% of barley and 75% of sunflower seed oil. Since the war began, wheat prices have increased by 21%, barley by 33% and some fertilizers by 40%, according to The New York Times.

Ukraine has been physically blocked off from trade because of the Russian invasion, and sanctions placed against Russia for the invasion have caused its energy and food exports to be blocked off.

“It’s a human catastrophe, meaning nutrition goes down. But then it also becomes a political challenge for governments who can’t do anything about it, they didn’t cause it and they see the prices going up,” World Bank President David Malpass told BBC News.

In February, U.S. grocery prices were already up 8.6% over a year prior, the largest increase in 40 years, and will likely see more inflationary impacts.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. forecasted a tighter monetary policy cycle due to the current demand and supply point in response.

While less than 1% of U.S. companies have direct exposure with both Russia and Ukraine, there are still indirect risks. This may lead to slower global growth and consumer spending, notably due to higher oil and food prices and supply chain strains.

To combat the war-driven inflation, U.S. President Joe Biden announced his plan on May. 11 to support farmers and consequently lower food prices.

His administration said it would expand double-cropping insurance to allow farmers to boost production by planting more on the same land, make technological assistance programs more available to cut costs and provide more money to produce fertilizer.

Despite these issues, there likely will not be long term effects. Financial advisors have said that it is important to avoid overreacting.

“History tells us that major geopolitical events will have almost no impact on markets after six to 12 months,” Michael Rosen, managing partner and chief investment officer at Angeles Investments and Angeles Wealth Management told Barrons.

Inflation was already causing consumers and investors to rethink their buying and investing strategies before the invasion, but for investors, it may also create an opportunity to invest in agriculture stocks, if domestic farmers help the economy bounce back.