Food crisis: cereal imports become drastically more expensive | tagesschau.de

Status: 05/13/2022 10:51 am

Cereal import prices rose more in March than in more than a decade due to the war in Ukraine. Due to the Russian attack, millions of tons are missing from the world market.

The Federal Statistical Office announced today that import prices for grains increased by almost 54 percent in March compared to the same month last year. According to statisticians, there was an even higher rate of change in May 2011 with an increase of 74 percent compared to May 2010.

“The war in Ukraine has an impact on the world grain supply and on grain prices,” the Federal Office said. The price increases affected all types of cereals: in March 2022, wheat rose in price by a good 65 percent compared to the same month last year, barley, rye, oats also about 65 percent. percent and corn 37 percent.

More expensive even before the war

However, to classify the increase unusually high, experts also point out that imported grain prices had already increased significantly before the Ukraine war. Since January 2021, monthly exchange rates compared to the same month last year have been “consistently in the double-digit range,” the statisticians note.

Also compared to import prices as a whole, the evolution of the price of wheat shows a particularly fast pace. In March 2022 they were a good 31 percent higher than in March 2021. But there’s a rapid rise here too: there was a higher year-over-year change in September 1974 during the first oil shock.

The war in Ukraine amplifies the evolution of prices

According to the Federal Office, there are many reasons for the price increase: high global demand and supply shortages due to poor weather conditions in major producing countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and South America, high fertilizer prices and increased transportation. and energy costs. The war in Ukraine has also increased the price increase.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Ukraine currently has almost 25 million tons of grain. “It is an almost grotesque situation that we are seeing in Ukraine at the moment,” said FAO expert Josef Schmidhuber. The amount of grain could be exported, “but it cannot leave the country simply because of the lack of infrastructure and the blockade of the ports.”

Find alternative routes

That is why the EU Commission wants to find new export routes by land. With the port blockade threatening global food security, “there is an urgent need to create alternative logistics routes,” the EU Commission said yesterday. The authority of Brussels is based on trucks and freight trains.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine exported 4.5 million tons of agricultural products per month through its ports. That corresponds to twelve percent of the world’s wheat, 15 percent of the corn requirement and 50 percent of sunflower oil.

Every tablespoon of Ukrainian grain on the world market helps alleviate hunger, especially in the Global South. Therefore, these measures must be implemented as quickly as possible, demanded SPD MEP Maria Noichl.

Different levels of self-sufficiency

Last year, more than eleven million tons of cereals were imported into Germany, as the statistics office also announced. The main countries of origin for wheat, which makes up a good third of all cereal imports, were the Czech Republic, Poland and France, with a combined share of more than 70 percent.

Although Ukraine and Russia are the world’s leading grain exporters, they only play a minor role in German imports. In 2021, only 1.9 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, of grain imports to Germany came from the two countries. Germany exported 11.7 million tons of grain last year.

In 2021, a good 42 million tons of grain were harvested in Germany, of which about half was wheat. According to the Federal Office for Food and Agriculture (BLE), the degree of self-sufficiency of cereals varies greatly: it is very high, for example, for common wheat with 125% or barley with 113%.

On the other hand, grain corn (59 percent) or durum wheat (15 percent), which is required for pasta production, among other things, have a lower degree of self-sufficiency. If the degree of self-sufficiency is less than 100 percent, Germany is dependent on imports.

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