Over the past 120 years, a Beirut bakery has survived civil war, Lebanon’s financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. Fighting in Ukraine, disrupting food and energy supplies world-wide, may soon put it out of business.
Zouhair Khafiyeh’s storefront is empty of the pastries and meat-stuffed pies he has sold for years, which helped put his children through college. The cost of a bag of flour on the black market has gone up more than 1000% since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. Mr. Khafiyeh has raised his prices by 50%, he said, and now bakes only when customers order and pay up front.
“We cannot continue like this,” said Mr. Khafiyeh, 54 years old. He fears he may have to close his bakery within a month.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spread pain across the developing world. It has spurred the biggest price shock in decades and choked imports of basic commodities, triggering shortages especially tough for poorer nations that were already far behind in their economic recovery from the pandemic.
In Kenya, bread prices recently jumped by 40% in some areas. In Indonesia, the government has imposed price controls on cooking oil. In Brazil, the state-owned energy-giant Petrobras said earlier this month it couldn’t hold off inflationary pressures and raised gasoline prices to distributors by 19%.
In Turkey, a sharp increase in the price of sunflower oil sparked panic buying. People climbed supermarket shelves and clambered over other shoppers to grab what remained. Street protesters in Iraq, angry over rising food prices, called themselves the “revolution of the starving.” [Continue reading…]