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Fertilizer Shortage Will Drive Global Food Prices Higher as Ukraine War Drags On

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Across the country, people are struggling to purchase nutritious food as global inflation takes root. Low-income people already spend a disproportionate proportion of their income on groceries.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that between April 2021 and April 2022, food prices increased by an average of 9.4 percent. But that includes restaurants prices, which increased at a slightly lower clip than grocery prices. Grocery and supermarket prices, by contrast, in April were fully 10.8 percent higher than in the previous year. The department’s Economic Research Services estimates that these prices will increase a further 8 percent this year.

This isn’t just an American problem. Globally, the disruptions to supply chains triggered by the pandemic, the rolling environmental catastrophe of climate change, and the war in Ukraine — which has bottled up millions of tons of vital supplies of wheat in blockaded Ukrainian ports and also led to a massive shortage of fertilizer — have combined to wreak havoc on food markets. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has, in recent months, recorded record-high prices around the world for cereals, dairy products, meat, sugar, and vegetable oils, among other food products. Since Russia and Ukraine between them account for nearly a quarter of the world’s wheat exports, economic embargoes against Russia, combined with Russia’s blockade of Ukraine, risk a global food calamity on a scale not seen in decades.

Indeed, the UN estimates that the war alone could push up global food prices by a jaw-dropping 22 percent. It also estimates that many countries, including a large number in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, receive up to 30 percent of their fertilizer supplies from Russia. The food security of these countries now is at risk of becoming collateral damage of the international efforts to isolate Russia from the global economy as a punishment for........

© Truthout

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