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We are just starting to see the global impact of the war in Ukraine. The worldwide shortage of petroleum, as countries refuse to permit Russian oil imports, has been driving gasoline and diesel fuel prices up for the last month, over and above the huge price increases that came with supply chain issues and the president’s energy policies.
But there’s much more to this picture than just high gas prices. Russia and Ukraine together account for something like 35% of the world’s wheat supply.
In addition, Ukraine and Russia are the two largest growers of sunflower seeds, and both contribute heavily to the world’s production of corn. US farmers depend heavily on Russian-produced potash, which is used in 92% of the fertilizer those farmers use.
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Russia has clearly stated that they intend to limit food exports to “friendly” countries only. That’s a pretty short list right now. That’s going to cause shortages to the global supply of at least some critical food items, as we and some other countries try to make up for the shortfall.
So it looks like there are a lot of things that we can expect to go up in price, especially food items. There will be global shortages of these foods and while that might not translate into shortages in our grocery stores, you can be sure that it will show up in increased prices. Those prices will remain high throughout 2022 and at least until harvest time in 2023.
That leads us to the question, just what sort of things should be stock up on so we’re ready for these price increases and potential shortages?
Wheat and Wheat Products
Probably the single biggest shortage, worldwide, is going to be wheat. The problem is, there are so many products that wheat is used in. We find wheat in cookies, bread, snack crackers, breakfast cereal, pasta, and a host of other products. All of these will be affected, both with higher prices and with shortages.
The problem is, we can’t stockpile all those items, although there are several we can. Breakfast cereal, snack crackers, and cookies will all stay fresh for at least a few years if they are packed in sealed aluminized Mylar packaging with oxygen absorbers.
You should also consider getting silica desiccant moisture absorbers. This is a modification of the normal way that preppers pack dry foods, but it will help keep foods from becoming stale.
For many of us, it might be better to just stockpile wheat flour rather than stockpiling the finished products. That will allow us to bake our own. Milled flour will keep for at least three years when stored in this manner. If we want it to last longer, we should store whole grains and have a grain mill to turn them into flour.
Of course, if we’re going to be baking, we may as well stockpile the rest of the common baking supplies, just in case there are shortages of them. This includes such things as oil, salt, sugar, powdered milk, powdered eggs, yeast baking powder and baking soda.
Ukraine is a major grower of sunflowers, their national flower. Most of the seeds from that flower are turned into oil, which is, in turn, used for commercial cooking of fried foods.
This includes pretty much all salty snack foods, which are usually fried in sunflower oil to reduce the cholesterol. Without the sunflower oil from the Ukraine, food processing companies will need to look to other types of oils or increase their prices.
With the shortage of fertilizer, the cost of all types of produce are going to go up. Farms will not produce as much of a crop without adequate fertilizer and farmers only have so many choices of what they can use. There aren’t adequate alternative supplies that they can turn to.
Unfortunately, produce isn’t one of those things that we can stock up on, unless we are going to can it or dehydrate it. Few people today have a root cellar, which would be the other option for stockpiling large quantities of at least some types of produce, with the expectation that it will last for several months.
Although we don’t receive meat from Russia or Ukraine, the fertilizer shortage is going to affect the cost of meat. We’ve already seen some pretty high inflation in the cost of meat over the last year, especially beef.
But this is nothing in comparison to the price increases we’re going to see in the coming year, as farmers and ranchers try to make up for their increased costs to feed those animals.
For those of us who are preppers, this is probably the most serious shortage that we’re looking at, mostly because we really don’t stockpile meat. However, in the last couple of weeks I’ve filled my freezer, to the point where you literally couldn’t fit a frozen mouse in there.
My wife and I bought the meat in the family packs at Sam’s Club and repackaged it in one meal packages. It might not be enough to get through the year, but it’s enough to get through a lot of it.
Just like meat, we can expect the cost of most dairy products to go up, with the possibility of their being shortages sometime in 2022. Even without shortages, we can expect prices to increase.
But in addition to that, we can expect the problems with fertilizers to affect eggs and other dairy products as well. Higher transportation costs will just make this worse.
Non-Food Items to Stock up On
While this article is about food items, I feel there are two important non-food items that I need to mention.
Bottled propane is basically liquefied natural gas. Many of us use propane for barbecue grills and a smaller number use it for our stoves and furnaces. With the war in Ukraine, the major pipelines from Russia into western Europe are at risk.
While supplies have not been cut yet, and there are no plans to sanction Russian natural gas, the lines themselves could become damaged by the war. Should that happen, Europe will be crying out for anyone to ship them natural gas.
I’m not even sure that there is shipping available for the United States to ship natural gas to Europe. But if there is, we might see a temporary shortage of natural gas, with the associated price increases. Filling up the tank behind your home now or even buying a spare tank for the grille could be a good failsafe, just in case prices rise.
We’ve already seen what has happened to gasoline prices, largely driven by the cost of raw petroleum skyrocketing. While this has only shown up as increased in gasoline and diesel so far, it will affect lots of other petroleum-based products this year.
We can expect prices on everything from paraffin candles to plastic goods to chemicals to go up this year. How bad that will be is up for grabs.
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