KIEV, UKRAINE – On February 24, the Ukrainian government suspended commercial shipping from its ports due to the Russian military invasion, and many private grain storage and processing facilities in Ukraine have also chosen to suspend operations for the safety of their employees.
Before the port was closed, a ship chartered by US-based multinational agribusiness Cargill was hit by a missile as it left a Black Sea port on Ukraine’s southern border. A Cargill spokesman said the crew were safe and the vessel remained “seaworthy” after the incident.
Cargill, which owns a majority stake in a deep-water port near Odessa and has more than 500 employees working at grain and oilseed processing plants in Ukraine, said it closed its facilities on Thursday to ensure the safety of his employees.
Other agricultural multinationals with facilities in Ukraine also opted to suspend operations once the Russian military began entering the country in the early morning hours of February 24.
Archer Daniels Midland Co., based in the United States, which employs more than 630 people in Ukraine and operates an oilseed crushing plant in Chornomorsk, a grain terminal in the port of Odessa, five inland terminals, a river silo and a trade office in Kyiv, said security was its top priority.
“Currently, our facilities in Ukraine are not operating, in accordance with safety protocols and government guidelines,” said ADM spokesperson Jackie Anderson. “ADM will use the full breadth of our global, integrated supply chain to meet the needs of our customers around the world as we manage this challenging situation.”
American companies Bunge and CHS have also suspended operations in Ukraine.
Bunge, which employs more than 1,000 workers in Ukraine, said it closed company offices and temporarily suspended operations at processing facilities in two cities in Ukraine. CHS Inc., which employs 46 people in Ukraine, said it has reduced its export activity in the country in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, reportedly kept its Black Sea ports open, but closed the port of Azov in Crimea to all commercial traffic. Most of Russia’s wheat exports pass through Black Sea ports.
Ukraine and Russia together account for around 30% of world wheat exports and 20% of corn exports annually.