Sarah Taber, who works in industry as a crop consultant, is in agreement with Putin's statement that the shortage itself is "not worth speaking of." She also makes an important point, perpendicular to anything Putin is saying, about the outsize impact of Euro-American fears of a grain shortage. She wrote in March 2022:
My personal favorite Misleading Wheat Stat is "Ukraine/Russia grow 25% of world wheat exports."
Why's it misleading? It's technically true, but doesn't mean what people think!
Missing wheat from the war is actually less than 1% of global wheat crop!
(She provides her data sources in the linked tweet thread.)
She followed up on this with a full-length article in April
Thanks to growing wheat production outside Ukraine, the 2022 world wheat crop is actually expected to exceed consumption for the first time in two years. Worldwide wheat gluts in 2020 led nations to slowly work their way through stockpiles rather than plant large crops. Like droughts, occasional gluts followed by a few years of lower production are a normal part of the global grain trade. The Russian invasion occurred when production was already at a post-glut low and headed for an upswing.
[ . . . ]
In contrast, the West—despite U.S. intelligence warning for months of a Russian invasion—seems to have been taken by surprise by the trade fallout. Government and private bodies alike responded with panic. They could have taken a rational look at grain stocks, harvest forecasts, and the very real supply chain problems for the MENA region and responded accordingly. But instead, Western decision-makers, both private and public, simply started hoarding grain. Panicked brokers with little experience in grain markets drove prices up to untenable levels (nearly $13 a bushel, about 60 pounds of wheat), when experienced crop analysts believe a slightly elevated price of $7.50 to $8 a bushel reflects actual global supply conditions.
[ . . . ]
In the long term, the West needs to reinvest in crop forecasting. The U.S. and other governments used to hire crop scientists to forecast global yields. But they don’t anymore. Wealthy countries have long had enough food that they’ve stopped imagining there could be a problem. And even in the West, autocrats don’t want good information: The Trump administration gutted the U.S. agricultural statistics department because it failed to generate data that supported then President Donald Trump’s claims. Unless rich countries correct course and invest in information and infrastructure, we may yet see famines and toppled governments. And it won’t even be because of supply shortages—but because the finance industry spooked, like a horse that saw a paper bag blowing in the wind and was sure it was a wolf.