Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis asserted in Parliament on Wednesday that Greece has enough stocks “for months ahead” in cereals, flours, and vegetable oils, while introducing a new stock registry for food and farming supplies.
Speaking of the draft amendment for the registry, Georgiadis said it would provide the government with quick sense of key supplies, in view of supply chain disruptions due to the war in Ukraine.
“We do not want to allow some people to create a fake shortage and make a fortune out of it, either through black marketeering or by artificially raising prices, more than is justified by the global crisis,” the minister said.
He clarified that the registry does not mean a shortage of these products.
“We have already recorded stock in these foodstuffs through the supermarkets,” he noted.
“There are enough supplies for months ahead of all of these products. There is no reason to panic,” the minister stressed, noting the example of sunflower oil.
Oil pricing is under greater pressure, since the steep rise in fossil fuel prices has led to using a greater proportion of sunflower oil as fuel, resulting in shortages on market shelves, he noted.
The amendment will oblige businesses along the entire supply chain, from production and importing to selling, distributing and storage, to record all raw materials for the production of fertilizers, fertilizers themselves, animal feed, raw cereals, any kind of flour, sunflower seeds, and vegetable oils (except olive oil).
The Finance Ministry amendment will give businesses two days from the publication of the law to fill out the registry, through the development ministry’s platform that connects to the public administration’s gateway.
Failure to comply or giving false data will result in confiscation of products and fines ranging from 1,000 euros to 100,000 euros.
After a month of war, economists and aid agencies say the world is facing merging crises that could rapidly spiral into a global food emergency. The conflict has already slashed Russian and Ukrainian exports of crucial commodities such as wheat, sunflower oil, and corn, a disturbance that has rippled across import-reliant countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
At the same time, the ongoing energy crunch has drastically increased fertilizer prices and transportation costs, squeezing the key inputs for global agricultural production.
These disruptions have converged in a “perfect storm,” said Ertharin Cousin, a distinguished fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former executive director of the World Food Program. “That could result in a cataclysmic spike in food prices.”
Together, Russia and Ukraine account for roughly 30 percent of global wheat exports, while Russia is the world’s top fertilizer exporter.
Both fertilizer and food prices have already climbed to record levels as the war impedes shipments and Western sanctions hit Russia.
In the early weeks of the conflict, Kyiv also banned exports of wheat and other key food staples, while Moscow urged its fertilizer producers to temporarily suspend exports.
In the coming months, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that food prices could surge by as much as 20 percent, a significant spike that could exacerbate global food insecurity.
Nearly 283 million people in 81 countries currently face acute food insecurity or are at high risk, according to the World Food Program, with 45 million on the brink of famine.
Russia’s invasion could be a “tipping point” into a world hunger crisis, Cousin said: “The entire global community will be hard hit by this.”
Rising food prices could also fuel political instability in import-reliant countries. Food prices and political unrest have historically been correlated with one another.
A decade ago, skyrocketing grain costs—which drove bread prices up by 37 percent in Egypt—contributed to the Arab Spring. Earlier in 2008, spiraling prices spurred global riots and protests.