Source: Alamy 

Russia this week pulled out of the deal, which had allowed the safe passage of Ukrainian wheat shipments from ports on its coast

The collapse of the Black Sea grain deal this week could have serious implications for global food security, humanitarian and supply chain experts have warned.

Russia pulled out of the deal, which had allowed the safe passage of Ukrainian wheat shipments from ports on its coast towards the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey, on Monday.

It cited what it described as a failure to meet its demands for a parallel agreement that would relax rules for its own food and fertiliser exports.

Russia has since launched several missile attacks on Ukrainian grain facilities in the south of the country. The BBC reported on Wednesday 60,000 tonnes of grain had been destroyed, with “a considerable amount” of export infrastructure also out of operation.

The initial UN and Turkey-brokered grain agreement, forged in July 2022, followed mounting concerns over the impact of the war on global food supplies.

Putin’s regime accused of ‘weaponising’ food

At the time, up to 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain was stuck in the country due to Russia’s naval blockade of its ports, which threatened to ultimately lead to food shortages, particularly in developing countries heavily dependent on the shipments. 

The deal initially allowed the shipment of foodstuffs and fertiliser from Ukraine via the Black Sea for 120 days. All parties subsequently agreed to extend the deal for a further 120 days in November and for 60 days each in March and May.

UN data shows almost 33 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain has been shipped out of the country over the past year.

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Russia’s abandonment of the deal was widely condemned this week.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken accused the Putin regime of “weaponising food” and ensuring it would make it “harder to come by in places that desperately need it”.

Likely food prices will rise further

His comments were echoed by Sophia Murphy, executive director of the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, who warned the collapse of the deal threatened to “deepen food insecurity in the world, including for many of the world’s most vulnerable people”.

Alberta Guerra, a food policy expert at charity ActionAid, said it was likely “we will see prices rise again further, exacerbating the harsh situations faced by many vulnerable countries already facing acute hunger”.

“If prices go up again, with the current dollar depreciation, the food import bills for countries already suffering will become even more unaffordable leading to many more people experiencing famine,” she warned.

Prices rose on global markets this week in the wake of the deal’s collapse. Wheat futures were up 12.5% in the five days to Thursday on the Chicago Board of Trade exchange.

It comes as Russia this week moved to impose state control of Danone’s Russian subsidiary and Carlsberg’s stake in Russian brewer Balti