The German agricultural company Bayer AG is pulling its business out of Russia, saying crop supplies for next year’s growing season are “contingent on peace”.
The firm said on Monday it had suspended advertising and investments in Russia following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last month.
“More than two weeks have passed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From the outset, we have utterly condemned this brutal aggression against a sovereign country. Our hearts ache as we see the devastation and death affecting innocent civilians, including children,” the company statement reads.
Russia and Ukraine have central roles in global food production and supply. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is the fifth. The countries together make up 52 per cent of the world’s sunflower oil exports, and Russia is also a leading supplier of fertiliser.
Bayer has stopped all “non-essential” spending in Russia, as well as in Belarus, where president Alexander Lukashenko is supporting Vladimir Putin’s war.
The company, which had sales of €41.4bn ($45.4bn) in 2020, said it would not pursue new business opportunities in the countries.
“Crop supplies for the 2023 growing season are contingent on peace,” the firm said.
The German multinational, which has 700 staff in Ukraine, said its “seeds and agricultural inputs stand ready for the planting season for farmers in Ukraine and we hope that the Ukrainian farmers will be able to secure the 2022 harvest”.
“We are prepared to support them as the window for planting is closing in only a few weeks,” it continued.
Bayer, which also sells medicines and health products, said its deliveries of essential items such as cancer treatments and seeds to grow food would continue as withholding them “would only multiply the war’s ongoing toll on human life”.
The firm joins an exodus of major brands from Russia, with McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Nestle among those suspending operations in the country following the invasion.