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Sunday, 17 May 2020

We’re facing a global food crisis, even though there’s enough food to go around

We’re facing a global food crisis, even though there’s enough food to go around: With an “unprecedented” breakdown in food supply chains and consumer demand, the world is now facing a food crisis that is driving up prices and putting vulnerable people at greater risk, the Wall Street Journal says.

The crisis comes as we face supply and demand problems simultaneously: On the supply side, a handful of countries are imposing protectionist measures — such as Russia and Romania limiting their wheat exports — in a bid to secure local consumption needs. Other countries are still trying to export their goods as normal, but are bogged down in logistical hurdles, including not being able to tend to their crops as a result of national lockdowns (which have also dried up some domestic markets) or their cargoes going bad while being held up at customs. On the demand side, people engaging in panic buying have left some markets with empty grocery store shelves, and others are struggling to finance their food needs amid job losses and slowdowns in business activity.

Egypt, for one, has rushed to secure its wheat needs by continuing imports during the annual harvest season, during which we typically hit “pause” on imports of the grain. The reticence of other producers to export has meant that state grain buyer GASC has only imported 240k tons of wheat since the local harvest began in mid-April. Its last tender attracted just five offers — the fewest in more than a year. But the upcoming harvest season in the Northern Hemisphere looks like it’s going to start at the best time to help Egypt secure its target wheat supplies.

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