By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused a food crisis in Iraq, Egypt and many other nations in the Middle East and North Africa dependent on wheat imports from these countries. The shortage of wheat supplies has led to a hike in prices, with people in many countries in the region facing shortages of bread.
Fortunately, Kuwait is not yet affected by this crisis, as wheat is imported from Australia. The Kuwait Flour Mills and Bakeries Company (KFMB), the sole importer of wheat, assured Kuwait has strategic stocks for six months. According to a PR officer at KFMB, Kuwait imports the best quality of wheat from Australia. “KFMB supplies flour to local bakeries. We import the wheat and grind it in our mills, that were founded in 1961, into flour. The flour used for Arabic pita bread is different from that used to make bread in the West. We use top-quality wheat,” she told Kuwait Times.
“Presently, there is no change in the prices of any of our products. But we don’t know how the situation is going to develop in the future. We are a public company subjected to inspections and control by the ministry of commerce. We can’t raise prices unless and country of origin increases their prices, for which we must also show proof,” she added.
Kuwait also imports barley for animal feed. “KFMB also produces animal feed from barley at our factory. We are governed by global prices – fodder prices had risen a few months back, but now there is no expected increase. But again, the situation may change in the future. We also have a strategic stock of barley for the next six months,” she explained, adding she cannot reveal all the countries they import barley from, as this information is not public.
According to TradeArabia.com, Kuwait ranked first among Arab countries and 33rd globally with 70.7 points in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI 2020) developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). On the other hand, Kuwait imports at least 90 percent of its food needs from abroad, which makes it vulnerable to the risks, especially with regards to protectionist policies imposed by countries during crises or when obstacles hit global supplies.
The index highlights the importance of addressing core causes of food shortage through effective policies and establishing a stronger, resilient and sustainable global food security system. The 113 countries included in the GFSI cover five regions – Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa and North America.