The Global Significance of Ukraine’s Grain Exports Amid Russia’s Conflict

by Andrew Wright
Ukraine-Russia Grain Deal

A wartime agreement facilitating Ukraine’s grain exports, pivotal in addressing global hunger, has been put on hold by Russia.

This agreement, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. Since its inception in August, Ukraine has exported a substantial 32.9 million metric tons (36.2 million tons) of food, primarily to developing nations, as confirmed by the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul.

While some experts suggest global wheat prices won’t be severely impacted due to sufficient global grain reserves, high local food prices in many countries are contributing to hunger crises.

This article examines the key features of this deal and its global implications:


In July 2022, Russia and Ukraine separately inked agreements. One restored access to three of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that had been blockaded following Russia’s invasion. The other facilitated Russian food and fertilizer movement despite Western sanctions.

Both nations are crucial exporters of affordable foodstuffs like wheat, barley, sunflower oil, which are heavily relied upon in parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Ukraine is a significant corn exporter, and Russia is a key fertilizer provider—these are essential components of the food supply chain.

Disrupted grain shipments from Ukraine, known as the “breadbasket of the world,” escalated a global food crisis and caused grain prices to surge.

This agreement ensured safe passage for ships entering and exiting Ukrainian ports, subjected to inspections by Russian, Ukrainian, U.N., and Turkish officials to verify that they were only transporting food.

Despite successfully being renewed three times, no new ships have joined the initiative since June 27, for which Ukraine holds Moscow responsible. The last ship departed from Ukraine on the past Sunday.


Post-deal, global food commodity prices, like wheat, which had skyrocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were somewhat reduced.

The deal reinstated the World Food Program’s major supplier, facilitating the export of 725,000 metric tons of humanitarian food aid from Ukraine to famine-stricken countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia.

After Russia’s withdrawal from the deal, wheat prices in Chicago experienced a moderate rise of about 3% on Monday, but eventually, the prices dropped later in the day.


Russia aims to lift sanctions on the Russian Agricultural Bank and eliminate shipping and insurance restrictions that, according to Moscow, obstruct its agricultural exports.

Russia has also protested that a commitment to transfer its ammonia, an essential fertilizer component, to a Ukrainian port for export has not commenced under the agreement. The U.N. confirms this but explains that the pipeline was damaged in the conflict.


The International Rescue Committee refers to the grain deal as a “lifeline for 79 countries and 349 million people confronting food insecurity.”

With millions of tons of food from Ukraine at stake, countries increasingly dependent on imported food due to conflict and drought may face rising costs if they need to source from farther suppliers. This exacerbates the situation for countries dealing with weakened currencies and mounting debt levels, as food shipments are paid for in dollars.

As for Ukraine, its economy heavily relies on agriculture, and pre-war, 75% of its grain exports were channeled through the Black Sea.

In addition to geopolitical issues, factors like the pandemic fallout, conflict, economic crises, drought, and other climatic elements influence people’s ability to access sufficient food.

Even with these challenges, experts note the adaptability of grain markets, with countries like Europe and Argentina ramping up wheat shipments, and Brazil having a successful year for corn.

Contributions to this article were made by Edith M. Lederer, Big Big News writer at the United Nations.

For a comprehensive coverage of the Ukrainian conflict and the food crisis, visit: https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine and https://bigbignews.net/food-crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ukraine-Russia Grain Deal

What was the Ukraine-Russia grain deal?

The grain deal was an agreement that allowed grain to be transported from Ukraine, one of the largest global suppliers, to various parts of the world, particularly developing nations. It ensured the safe movement of ships carrying food, which were inspected by Russian, Ukrainian, U.N., and Turkish officials.

What impact did the Ukraine-Russia grain deal have on global food prices?

The deal helped reduce global food commodity prices, such as wheat, which had hit record highs after Russia invaded Ukraine. It allowed Ukraine to continue exporting significant quantities of grain, alleviating some of the global demand pressures.

Why did Russia terminate the grain deal with Ukraine?

Russia claimed that they want an end to sanctions on the Russian Agricultural Bank and to restrictions on shipping and insurance which, according to Moscow, have been inhibiting its agricultural exports. They also protested that a part of the deal involving the transfer of ammonia for fertilizer export hasn’t commenced due to a damaged pipeline.

Who is affected by the termination of the Ukraine-Russia grain deal?

The International Rescue Committee identifies the grain deal as a lifeline for 79 countries and 349 million people who are on the frontlines of food insecurity. If countries need to source from farther suppliers due to the lack of grain from Ukraine, costs may rise. This will especially impact countries that have seen their currencies weaken and debt levels grow, as they pay for food shipments in dollars.

How is Ukraine affected by the termination of the grain deal?

Ukraine’s economy heavily relies on agriculture, and prior to the war, 75% of its grain exports went through the Black Sea. Without the grain deal, Ukraine’s wheat shipments have dropped by over 40% from its pre-war average, causing a significant impact on their economy.

More about Ukraine-Russia Grain Deal

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SammyG July 17, 2023 - 3:54 pm

So its like, sanctions n politics messin up people’s meals now huh… World needs to get it together. smh.

ClaraBee July 17, 2023 - 6:28 pm

Why can’t we keep food separate from wars and politics? Seems like common sense to me, right??

PeaceNLove74 July 18, 2023 - 2:20 am

this is scary y’all. Food is a basic human right. We gotta do better than this.

Jerry_83 July 18, 2023 - 8:50 am

Wow, I never knew Ukraine was such a major player in the global grain market. Pretty eye-opening stuff right there!

David_Hanlon July 18, 2023 - 10:27 am

Really detailed article, I appreciate it. Puts a lot of things into perspective about the ripple effects of conflicts.

VeggieFan21 July 18, 2023 - 11:14 am

Well, let’s hope they figure out another way to transport the grain. People are really going to feel this 🙁


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