“There’s been a mad rush to find alternatives” for Ukraine’s grain exports, said Mike Lee, a specialist in Black Sea agricultural projects at Green Square Agro Consulting in Britain. “But the only real viable route to exporting grain out is through the Black Sea ports, and there’s no alternative to get to the quantities that need to be shifted.”
Better Understand the Russia-Ukraine War
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has acknowledged the limitations of the alternatives being considered. He said in a speech on Monday that only a “much smaller volume can be supplied via new routes” and that “this results in a much more expensive supply.”
Exports slowed during the pandemic as the global economy contracted, but Ukraine typically ships about 50 million to 60 million tons of agricultural products per year. In May, after Russia’s invasion began, its export figure plummeted, according to figures from Strategie Grains, which is part of Tallage, a French research firm.
In other terms, Ukraine provided about 15 percent of global wheat exports in 2019 before the pandemic. But Andrée Defois, deputy chief operating officer of Strategie Grain, said the figure could now fall to around 6 percent unless there is “a miracle.”