‘This is a 14-year high:’ Wheat prices spike amid conflict in Ukraine

Russia, Ukraine export nearly 30% of world’s wheat

What you might not know is that Russia and Ukraine account for 14% of the world's wheat production. And that's sending the prices of flour skyrocketing for local bakers like Metropolitan Bakery in Hamtramck.

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – First, it was supply chain issues due to the pandemic, and now it’s the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that may cause a price increase in bread.

Russia and Ukraine are big exporters of wheat, “Russia is the number one wheat exporter in the world,” said Metropolitan Bread Company president and CEO George Kordas. “Between them (Russia and Ukraine), they export 30% of the world’s wheat.”

Metropolitan Bread Company is a Hamtramck family business and one of the largest wholesale baking companies in the region.

“If you’re eating at a Coney Island or a stadium, if you’re eating at a hospital, or you know the family-style restaurant, it’s a good chance it’s our products,” Kordas said.

They use 500,000 pounds of flour in a week, so the spike in wheat prices is a concern.

“This is a 14-year-high. It’s scary stuff, and I’m not sure there’s an end in sight,” said Kordas.

It didn’t take long for them to see a difference.

“Our ingredients are going up, Kordas said. “We’re gonna end up having to pass all those on to the consumer, whether that’s the restaurants, the institutions, the schools, whoever may be, retail establishments.”

Ultimately that may mean you as a customer may pay more for buns, rolls, or anything else with wheat. Kordas said it’s not just his company; other companies are already in similar situations. He said that there are also high gas prices.

Kordas said it will cost more to fill up their delivery trucks and cost farmers more to fuel their equipment.

“We’re being beaten up, you know, across the board, but we’re not alone, Kordas said. “Everyone else is in it, and what’s sad about this is it just makes its way straight to the consumer. They have to be passed along, and we’re doing everything we can to remain as competitive as possible. We work with analysts, and we work with consultants, we sit around the table and do everything we can to hedge our prices the best we can.”

About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.