KIEV, UKRAINE — The Ukraine government on Feb. 24 suspended commercial shipping from its ports due to Russia’s military invasion, and many privately-owned grain storage and processing facilities in Ukraine also chose to suspend operations for the safety of their employees.
Prior to the port shutdown, a shipping vessel chartered by Cargill, a multinational agribusiness based in the United States, was struck by a missile as it was leaving a Black Sea port on Ukraine’s southern border. A Cargill spokesman said the crew members were safe and accounted for and the vessel remained “seaworthy” following the incident.
Cargill, which owns a majority stake in a deep-sea port near Odessa and has more than 500 employees working in grain and oilseed processing plants in Ukraine, said it shut down its facilities on Thursday to keep its employees safe.
Other multinational agricultural companies with facilities in Ukraine also chose to suspend operations once the Russian military started pushing into the country in the early morning hours of Feb. 24.
US-based Archer Daniels Midland Co., 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 trading office in Kiev, said safety was its top priority.
“Currently our facilities in Ukraine are not operating, following security protocols and government guidelines,” said Jackie Anderson, an ADM spokeswoman. “ADM will use the full breadth of our global and integrated supply chain to support the needs of our customers around the world as we manage through this difficult situation.”
Also suspending operations in Ukraine were US-based companies Bunge and CHS.
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 been drawing down its export activity in the country for the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, reportedly kept its Black Sea ports open, but it did close the Port of Azov in Crimea to all commercial traffic. Most of Russia’s wheat exports go through the Black Sea ports.
Ukraine and Russia combine for about 30% of global wheat exports and 20% of corn exports annually.