In North Africa and the Middle East, reliance on Russian and Ukrainian wheat is taking its toll and threatening skyrocketing prices.
Of the five major world wheat exporters, Russia ranks first and Ukraine oscillates behind the United States between third and fifth place with France and Canada. It shows how the Ukrainian crisis, which affects two major international producers, will affect wheat prices and large-scale importing countries. Important are in North Africa – Egypt, Algeria – and in the Middle East – Lebanon, Syria, Yemen.
Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, and with a population of 102 million, the price of government-subsidized bread is a major political issue. However, 50% of the wheat consumed comes from Russia and 30% from Ukraine, which in recent years has been detrimental to US wheat, making it more expensive. Since the beginning of the war, which has faced inflation (in some days, prices have risen from 270 to 380 euros per tonne), the Egyptian government has twice withdrawn calls for tenders, set French prices and, most importantly, the markets, these last days before concluding purchases.