Soaring wheat prices spell pain for consumers

STORY:

Global food prices look set to rise even higher as the cost of grains rockets.

Monday (March 7) saw Chicago wheat futures hit a 14-year high.

The wheat market jumped more than 40% last week, which was its biggest weekly rise on record.

As the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, corn rose over 2% Monday, while soybeans were up almost as much.

Sometimes referred to as the world's bread basket, Russia and Ukraine account for almost a third of global wheat exports, nearly a fifth of corn shipments and 80% of exports of sunflower oil.

With Ukrainian ports closed and operators reluctant to trade Russian wheat in the face of Western financial sanctions, buyers are trying to find alternative suppliers.

One of the world's largest agricultural commodity merchants, the Louis Dreyfus Company, suspended its operations in Russia on Friday (March 4).

Traders said that day that export demand for wheat from the EU surged last week and is expected to stay high as fighting disrupts shipments from Ukraine and Russia.

The U.N. food agency said world food prices hit a record high in February, jumping over 20% from a year earlier, led by a surge in vegetable oils and dairy products.