Agricultural traders predict an approaching global food war

Sunny Verghese, CEO of Olam Agri, one of the largest global agricultural traders, said that the world is heading for “food wars” as geopolitical tensions and climate change push countries into conflicts over shrinking supplies.

“We have fought many wars for oil. We will fight even bigger wars for food and water,” he said.

Major agricultural traders, who made record profits in 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused food prices to skyrocket, are accused of fueling inflation by markups that increase profits.

Verghese argues that the increased inflation was partly the result of government intervention. The proliferation of non-tariff trade barriers in 2022 in response to the war created an exaggerated imbalance of supply and demand.

Wealthier countries accumulated surpluses of strategic goods, which led to exaggerated demand and rising prices: “India, China, they all have buffer stocks. This only exacerbates the global problem,” he emphasized..

Food prices began to rise after the spread of Covid-19 and spiked after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as grain and fertilizer exports were blocked. This has deepened food insecurity in poorer countries and left consumers around the world facing a cost-of-living crisis. With such growth and climate change hampering agricultural production around the world, governments are increasingly resorting to protectionist policies:

“It was a completely wrong decision. You will see this more and more,” the trader said.

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