Why is Ukrainian grain so important to the world?
Ukrainian grain exports are a major part of Ukraine's economy. Find out more about our country's agricultural policy and why Ukrainian exports guarantee global food security around the world
The blast wave from the war in Ukraine is reaching other countries, as evidenced by this year and the previous one. A striking example was the blocking of Ukrainian grain. According to the UN, grain from Ukraine fed more than 400 million people in the world and accounted for 10% of all crops sold. It is critically important for countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Here's why Ukrainian grain is essential to ensure food security in the world.
Ukraine's agricultural policy
Ukraine has long been selling grain to Europe and generating significant revenue for the state budget. In 2022, the European market also needed grain from Ukraine due to the drought caused by abnormally hot weather.
The main crops that Europe needs are corn, sunflower and soybean meal, and soybeans. Despite the war, exports have increased:
- Corn: from 8 million tons in 2021 to 11.32 million tons in 2022;
- Sunflower oil: from 1.96 million tons in 2022 to 2.05 million tons in 2022;
- Sunflower meal: from 1.4 million tons to 1.58 million tons in 2023.
As you can see, the demand for Ukrainian food is significant. At the same time, Ukrainian officials realize that cooperation with European neighbors is extremely important. That's why it's important to make sure that farmers in neighboring countries feel protected.
Ukrainian exports guarantee global food security
Although grain sales have significantly supported Ukraine's economy, importers have also benefited. For example, Poland, which exported more products to other countries last year than usual. In 2022, exports of meat and dairy products grew by 37%. This is all thanks to grain from Ukraine, which has strengthened the competitiveness of Polish producers.
Logistics companies, traders, and ports have made money on the export of Ukrainian grain. As a result, numerous of companies made significant profits and paid taxes to their home countries.
Ukrainian grain is an important link in the global food security chain. After all, it will not be possible to quickly replace and ship products to less affluent countries.
Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe
It is not for nothing that Ukraine is called the breadbasket of Europe. In 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published data confirming that Ukraine was the leader in the sunflower oil market with a share of about 45% and became the third-largest producer of corn, barley, and rapeseed.
As for wheat, in 2021 the country became the sixth-largest producer in the world.
Due to significant grain exports in the past, some countries have become dependent on Ukrainian grain. As reported by the World Food Program, Lebanon, Djibouti, Pakistan, Somalia, Mauritania, and Eritrea meet more than half of their wheat needs from Ukraine. In general, grain from Ukraine is irreplaceable for Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.
Such a strong dependence on Ukrainian grain means that any disruption in the supply chain could have serious consequences for these countries. If, say, 20 tons of grain is not exported from Ukraine, there will be nowhere to get it. For example, it is too expensive to ship wheat from Canada to Africa.
Where is Ukrainian grain exported to?
From March 2022 to February 2023, farmers exported 55,880,043 tons of grain.
The largest importers of Ukrainian agricultural products in the period from August 2022 to April 2023 were the following countries:
At the same time, a large share (more than 65%) of exported wheat goes to developing countries, according to the UN.
Before the full-scale invasion, people did not think about where the grain was going and how food security depended on certain countries. Ukrainian grain turned out to be an extremely important element in curbing hunger in developing countries. Due to russia's aggression, millions of people could have gone hungry, as more than 20 million tons of grain were blocked in Ukraine in 2022. But despite all the difficulties, the Ukrainian authorities managed to unblock logistics routes and guarantee global food security.
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