Project SyndicateProject Syndicate

The hunger profiteers

By Jennifer Clapp and Phil Howard

08 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have caused commodity prices to rise, undermining global food security. Despite a recent decrease, the risk of further price volatility remains high due to factors such as Russia's annulment of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and attacks on Ukraine's export infrastructure, argue Jennifer Clapp and Phil Howard in PS.

WATERLOO/EAST LANSING – The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have caused commodity prices to soar in recent years, severely undermining global food security. Now, global food prices are down from the peaks of a year ago, but no one should be complacent: the world’s food woes are far from over. The risk of additional price volatility remains high.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annulment of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and attacks on export infrastructure in Ukraine, grain prices have ticked upward again. But dysfunctional food markets are the long-term risk. Wheat remains more than twice as expensive as it was before the pandemic. Moreover, food-price inflation is still running above 5% in most developing countries, and as high as 30% in Rwanda and Egypt. Another global food-price spike is likely.

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