The war in Ukraine has caused major supply disruptions and led to historically higher prices for a number of commodities. For most commodities, prices are expected to be significantly higher in 2022 than in 2021 and to remain high in the medium term. The price of Brent crude oil is projected to average $100/bbl in 2022, a 42 percent increase from 2021 and its highest level since 2013. Non-energy prices are expected to rise by about 20 percent in 2022, with the largest increases in commodities where Russia or Ukraine are key exporters. Wheat prices, in particular, are forecast to increase by more than 40 percent this year, reaching an all-time high in nominal terms. While prices generally are expected to peak in 2022, they are to remain much higher than previously forecast. The outlook for commodity markets depends heavily on the duration of the war in Ukraine and the severity of disruptions to commodity flows, with a key risk that commodity prices could be higher for longer. A Special Focus section investigates the impact of the war on commodity markets and compares the current episode with previous price hikes. It finds that previous oil price hikes led to the emergence of new sources of supply and reduced demand through efficiency improvements and substitution of other commodities.
In the case of food price hikes, additional land came into use for production. For policymakers, a short-term priority is to provide targeted support to poorer households facing higher food and energy prices. Over the longer term, they can encourage energy efficiency improvements, facilitate investment in new sources of zero-carbon energy, and promote more efficient food production. Recently, however, policy responses have tended to favor trade restrictions, price controls, and subsidies, which are likely to exacerbate shortages.