In 2016/2017 marketing year 43,8 mln tons of grain crops were exported at a record gross yield of 66,08 mln tons. This is the maximum amount of shipments during the time of Ukraine's independence. Both the record production and a significant reduction in domestic food and feed consumption have become the factors of growth in exports.
In the period from 2011/2012 to 2016/2017 MY, domestic consumption of cereals decreased by 25%. Such a significant reduction was mainly due to 19% decrease in volumes of food consumption. If in 2011/2012 MY about 6,64 mln tons of grain crops were processed for food purposes, then according to the results of the last marketing year – 5,40 mln tons.
Balance of grain crops
Data: State Statistics Service
A striking example of the drop in the volume of food consumption of grain crops is data on the structure of the flour distribution in Ukraine. According to the data of the State Union «Millers of Ukraine», over the last 5 years there has been a noticeable tendency of a rapid decline in domestic production (-23%) and consumption (-33%) of flour, while exports grew by + 49% over this period. Each year, Ukraine reduces the consumption of flour by an average of 9%, while increasing exports by an average of 19%.
Data: the State Union «Millers of Ukraine»
It is not necessary to talk about the export of strategically important food products (although the foreign market is really more premium than domestic), since there are more global negative changes that will have a future impact not only on individual industries but also on the state's economy as a whole. In Ukraine, population is decreasing from year to year, and this, along with low purchasing power, is one of the key reasons for reducing the consumption of food grains.
Data: State Statistics Service
According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, as of January 1, 2017, 42,5 mln people live in Ukraine, although the real figure, having all the prerequisites (high level of labor emigration, annexation of Crimea, the war in eastern Ukraine), is much lower. Data from various wire services that closely monitor demographic changes in Ukraine suggest that currently about 36-38 mln people live in the country, which led to the reduction in the consumption of grain crops. And the Foreign Ministry estimated that about 5 mln people of Ukrainians who have gone to look for a better life outside Ukraine are on consular registry in different countries of the world, and this is only official data. Assessing the current situation in the country, the Institute for Demography and Social Research, in conjunction with the UN Population Fund, in its work on a comprehensive demographic forecast for Ukraine, made calculations by 2050. According to their forecasts, in the case of the most optimistic forecast by 2050, Ukrainians will have 42,3 million people, with pessimistic – the population may drop to 25 mln people. Unfortunately, we already have negative preconditions for this - according to the State Statistics Service, mortality in Ukraine is twice the birth rate, and there is little chance of changing this dynamic in the short-term.
Sometimes such insignificant, at first glance, negative changes in the consumption volume of food grain may indicate the large-scale demographic changes in the country. Currently, the task of the state and business is not the establishment of «written records», but the improvement of the living conditions of ordinary Ukrainians who, having created a young family and giving birth to children would spend on food products a share of incomes that would not be burdensome for them. And management of companies, saving on wages of employees, should soberly assess the prospects of shortage of labor and intellectual resources in the short term.