Food prices in the UK will remain higher for longer if Russia continues bombing Ukraine ports

The renewed blockade has been accompanied by intensified Russian missile attacks on a key grain-shipping port

The Bosphorus Strait is a narrow shipping lane that links the Black Sea to the rest of the world.

Cargo still travels along this vital trade route but exports from Ukraine stopped abruptly and almost entirely last week when Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and began bombing the port of Odessa.

And the attacks have since spread west.

Russian drones have begun targeting the ports of Reni and Izmail on the river Danube - Ukraine’s last remaining shipping artery.

On the other bank of the Danube is Romania, a member of NATO.

“This is looking like a ‘scorched earth’ policy,” says Michael Magdovitz, a senior commodities analyst with Rabobank. “The Russian’s are bombing port silos, facilities, export logistics. And what that does is cut off Ukraine from the rest of the world.”

The Black Sea Grain Initiative protected cargo passing in and out of the Ukrainian ports of Odessa and Chornormorske.

In the last year, the agreement has enabled 32.9 million metric tonnes of grain to be shipped through the Bosporus and beyond. 

Russia striking grain store 200 metres from Nato-member Romania has raised concerns over food security in multiple countries. Credit: Ukraine Operational Command South

Corn, wheat, sunflower oil, rapeseed and barley were transported to ports in Europe, North Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. 

According to the UN, the agreement helped to drive down the global price of food by almost 21% in the last year, although it remains well above pre-Covid levels.

And when Russia pulled out a week ago, the global market price of wheat and a host of other agricultural commodities spiked again.

“With the termination of the Black Sea Initiative, the most vulnerable will pay the highest price,” warned the Secretary General of the UN in Rome on Monday.

“When food prices rise, everybody pays for it.”

Russia is attacking Ukrainian ports and threatening to target cargo vessels at the very moment when farmers in Ukraine and across the Northern Hemisphere are preparing to go into the fields and start harvesting.

If global market food prices remain elevated then supermarket prices in Britain are unlikely to fall.

“Ukraine is a very low cost, very plentiful food producer,” says Magdovitz. “Food inflation [in the UK] is running hot.

"I think the real concern is that we were expecting it to drop dramatically and the question will be whether we can get back to our historic levels.

"And right now that’s very difficult to see.”

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