War, Climate Change, Energy Costs: How the Wheat Market Has Been Upended – The New York Times

by | Aug 1, 2022 | Energy

The price of wheat has tumbled from its peak after Russia invaded Ukraine, but experts say one of the world’s most widely consumed foods remains in short supply and warn that a global hunger crisis still looms.Like oil, steel, beef and other commodities integral to the economy, wheat shifts in price and availability in response to a complex set of overlapping factors, such as geopolitics and the weather. While the falling price of wheat offers some respite for countries dependent on importing the crop, it may dissuade farmers from planting more.Nor does the drop in price address pre-existing problems worsened by a war between two of the world’s biggest producers. Energy prices remain high, affecting the cost of running farm equipment and transporting the wheat to market as well as the cost of fertilizer. And hot, dry weather that crimps crop yields is becoming more common.“The fundamental picture hasn’t really changed,” said Ehsan Khoman, who manages emerging-market and commodities research for Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, a Japanese bank. “There is a potential where food prices could spiral out of control.”The wheat market has been on a wild ride this year.Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused food and fuel prices to soar, as war and sanctions disrupted supplies from two of the world’s major agriculture and energy exporters. The two countries together account for roughly a quarter of global wheat exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Oil prices have eased a bit since the start of the war, though it still costs a lot more than it did at the start of the year for Americans to fill thei …

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