Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue recently predicted the world is on the verge of a food crisis as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In a video interview with Fox Business, Unanue said humanity has now “weaponized food.”
“We are on the precipice of a global food crisis. God created humanity. Humanity has created every way to destroy itself from nuclear [to] biological [to] chemical, but now we’ve waged a war, we’ve weaponized food,” Unanue told “Mornings with Maria” host Maria Bartiromo when she asked him how he sees inflation today.
Jersey City-based Goya Foods reported more than $2 billion in sales in 2021 despite the covid-19 pandemic and exodus of workers from the labor force. The company claims to be the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. and it was founded in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina, both from Spain.
Ukraine and Russia represented 50 percent of the world’s production of fertilizer, 30 percent wheat, 20 percent corn and other foods and minerals, Unanue said.
He further stated that Russia has attacked irrigation and train systems and sent women and children into exile, causing Ukrainians to be unable to plant or export goods.
“The countries that will suffer are the innocent ones in Africa and around the globe,” Unanue said.
The Goya chief’s comments came just days before another report from CNBC detailed how the Russian invasion threatens dire food insecurity in African countries, including those in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions.
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Wheat futures are up 30 percent since the start of the invasion and food prices are 34 percent higher than they were a year ago in the MENA region, according to the report.
Add to that the fact that bread is a major food staple in the MENA regions and Russians have shut down the Black Sea, which Ukraine used to export 95 percent of its wheat, and the picture gets even more dire.
“We’ve got now 45 million people in 38 countries that are knocking on famine’s door,” said David Beasley, executive director of the U.N.’s World Food Program, in a CBS interview last week. “And you may see a general price increase of food, let’s say 38-to-40 percent, but in some of the very tough places, it’s going to be 100, 200 percent, like in Syria.”
Experts said intervention by the international community is necessary to prevent further suffering.
“Many countries in Africa were already in a food crisis,” said Lena Simet, senior researcher on poverty and inequality at Human Rights Watch. “Rising prices are compounding the plight of millions of people thrown into poverty by the covid-19 pandemic, requiring urgent action by governments and the international community.”
Though Unanue said the United States would be the last country impacted, he advised Americans “to tighten our belt and consume less.”
PHOTO: Products by Goya Foods on shelves at Stop & Shop supermarket, Queens. The company was boycotted in 2020 after CEO Robert Unanue praised then-President Donald Trump. Hashtag #Goyaway trended. Unanue said he also praised Michelle Obama in 2012. (By John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 7/17/20).
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