In the wake of Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, food prices skyrocketed, setting off global alarm bells and helping push the FAO’s Food Price Index to its highest level ever, an increase of 34% from the year before.

But the stage was already set for crisis. COVID-related supply chain challenges, poor harvests and climate change all played a role in making 2022 a terrible year for food. Record droughts in North and East Africa, a heatwave in India and conflicts in Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia meant that Putin’s invasion just made things worse.

Long before the invasion, years of rising demand driven by population growth and rising prosperity in Asia have been met with stagnating supply.

Food prices have been rising since the start of the pandemic

Sources

Key Stats

  • In 2021, there were 193 million people in urgent need of food assistance. If this population were a country, it would be the 8th largest in the world.
  • Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, an additional +70.4 million people are experiencing hunger.
  • Gender inequalities are widening. Before the pandemic, women were 6% more likely than men to experience hunger. During the height of the pandemic, it was 10%.
  • Credible estimates put the global cost of ending hunger between $39 billion and $50 billion a year, less than half the $110 billion spent on pet food last year.

What is hunger

Hunger is the most visible indicator of poverty. Every one of us needs food to stay alive and healthy. Families will almost always prioritise food over other expenses. So when they can’t afford to eat, you know they are in crisis. 

When meals are skipped, the body begins to break down stored fat and protein. This affects energy and concentration levels, and leads to irritability, anger, and frustration. After a few days of no food, the body starts to turn fat into ketones for energy. When fat stores are depleted, the body breaks down protein in muscles. The eyes begin to sink in and glass over. The skin loosens and turns pale. When protein runs out, essential organs cease to function and the heart often stops.

It’s a painful and heartbreaking story repeated 25,000 times every day. Once every three seconds.

In some countries more than half the population doesn't have enough food