Ukraine and Russia produce "53 percent of global trade in sunflower oil and seeds and 27 percent in wheat."
A United Nations assessment warns that Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is disrupting food supply lines and driving up prices to levels that threaten the world's most vulnerable people.
The UN Conference and Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a "rapid assessment" released late on March 16 that Ukraine and Russia are global players in agri-food markets, representing 53 percent of global trade in sunflower oil and seeds and 27 percent in wheat.
Given their importance, UNCTAD said the war "has a huge cost in human suffering and is sending shocks through the world economy." "Soaring food and fuel prices will affect the most vulnerable in developing countries, putting pressure on the poorest households which spend the highest share of their income on food, resulting in hardship and hunger," UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said in a statement accompanying the report. "All countries will be affected by this crisis, but developing countries already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising debt, and climate change will be hit especially hard by disruptions in food, fuel, and finance," she added. Grynspan said that many countries, already under severe pressure due to the costs of the pandemic, will see a disruption in trade, widening deficits, and a drop in investment. It may also lead to a significant increase in oil and gas prices that shift investment back into fossil-fuel-based energy generation, which risks reversing the trend towards renewables at a time of acute climate crisis. "This is cause for great concern, as social and political stability and increasing food prices are highly correlated," she said.