Wheat soars to record, surpassing high during global food crisis
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Wheat soars to record, surpassing high during global food crisis

Wheat soars to record, surpassing high during global food crisis

The elevated prices are triggering concerns about growing food insecurity

Wheat jumped to an all-time high, exceeding levels during the global food crisis in 2008, as Russia’s intensifying crisis in Ukraine cuts off one of the world’s top breadbaskets and delivers an extreme supply shock.

Chicago futures surged as much as 5.4 per cent to $13.63 1/2 a bushel. Prices have skyrocketed more than 60 per cent in the past two weeks as the crisis effectively shut off more than a quarter of the world’s supply of the food staple used in everything from bread to cookies and noodles.

Global food costs are already at a record, and the jump in prices since Russia’s invasion is only going to send them higher, pushing more people into hunger and increasing government spending on subsidies for consumers.

The elevated prices are triggering concerns about growing food insecurity and stir memories from more than a decade ago, when price spikes led to food riots in more than 30 nations, including in Africa and the Middle East.

Both wheat and rice, the world’s two top food staples, jumped in the first half of 2008 to records at the time. This year, while wheat has skyrocketed, rice has been more subdued and is only near the highest since May 2020.

Unsubsidised bread prices are creeping higher in Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer. The government has been considering lifting the costs of subsidised loaves that millions of citizens consume.

“So much remains unknown,” Jacqueline Holland, an analyst at Farm Futures, said by email. “Will the Black Sea market be accessible to the outside world not just in the next three or four months, but for the next 18 months?”

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