Saudi official warns of growing global food crisis from Ukraine war

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia’s finance minister, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Several countries are raising the alarm over the growing crisis in global food supplies triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The warring states are among the world’s top agricultural exporters and feed much of the developing world in particular.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan believes the world is not taking it seriously enough.

“I think this is a very serious issue. The food crisis is real. I think it is still underestimated by the world community,” al-Jadaan told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“It is going to cause a lot of issues, not only in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, but even in the wider world.

“The MENA region is very, very, very vulnerable,” the finance chief added. “It imports a lot of food, it represents 26% of the population in the world.”

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine now threatens a huge proportion of the wheat and grain that countries in the Middle East and Africa rely on. Together, Russia and Ukraine account for roughly one-third of the world’s global wheat exports, nearly 20% of its corn, and 80% of its sunflower oil — and they provide the majority of the MENA region’s supply. 

Wheat futures are up more than 30% since the invasion began in late February.

Before the war, over 95% of Ukraine’s total grain, wheat and corn exports were…

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