War in Ukraine: Lebanon multiplies contacts to escape a wheat crisis

In full economic and financial collapse, the country of Cedar is looking for alternatives to the Ukraine and Russia sectors.

Fouad is helpless in his small bakery of mana’iche, popular cooked wheat pancakes most often decorated with thyme or cheese. He has seen his clientele sparse in the Beirut district of Ras El-Nabaa, under the influence of the serious economic and financial crisis which has been raging since 2019. This is reflected in the collapse of purchasing power, against a backdrop of galloping inflation. He now fears that his activity will slow down further with the war in Ukraine, which “aggravates the situation. Indeed, almost all of the common wheat consumed in Lebanon came from Ukraine (80%) and Russia (16%).

Since the beginning of the conflict, “the quantity of wheat flour that can be acquired is limited, because the priority goes to the bakeries which produce Arabic [flat] bread [a quota has been reserved for them, of approximately 60% to 70% of imported wheat]. The rest, you have to get it on the black market – from individuals who sell for more,” says Fouad.

The government’s statements are intended to be reassuring, but they do not stop the panic. In fact, the flour stalls are empty in the supermarkets. Some wheat importers, on the other hand, adopt a catastrophic tone. Finally, the assessments of current reserves – which do not take into account probable parallel stocks – are fluctuating.

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