On Friday, officials at the United Nations (UN) World Food Program (WFP) expressed their concern that the damage done to the port of Beirut will exacerbate an already difficult food security situation in Lebanon.\r\n\r\nThe program indicated that it intends to import wheat flour and grains for bakeries and mills to help prevent food shortages in that country, and it will allocate food rations for families affected savagely by the Beirut explosion.\r\n\r\nSpokeswoman for the WFP Elisabeth Byrs said in notes prepared for the United Nations' report, that the UN is concerned that the explosion and damage to the port will exacerbate the already dismal food security situation, which has been exacerbated by the country's deep financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.\r\n\r\nByrs added that it would provide food parcels for thousands. families, emphasizing that the WFP is also ready to provide supply chain management logistical support and expertise to Lebanon.\r\n\r\nAs a result of the massive explosion, wheat spilled out of disemboweled silos, mixing with soot, debris and cement.\r\n\r\nBeirut's port blast has gutted Lebanon's largest grain storage and sparked public panic over bread shortages.\r\n\r\nTuesday's explosion has further strained food access for a population that relies on imports for 85 percent of consumed foodstuff. That includes wheat to produce staple flat bread, mandatory at every Lebanese meal and now sold at the state-subsidised price of 2,000 Lebanese pounds per 900-gramme-bag.\r\n\r\n"When we saw the silos, we panicked," said Ghassan Bou Habib, CEO of Lebanon's Wooden Bakery pastry franchise.\r\n\r\nSome 15,000 tonnes of wheat, corn and barley were blasted out of the towering 55-year-old silos and a nearby mill was destroyed.\u00a0At least one ship unloading wheat during the explosion was damaged, its stocks inedible.\r\n\r\nLebanese bread makers and consumers fear the loss of the 120,000-tonne capacity silos will compound months of wheat worries, making bread harder to produce and ultimately more expensive for a population that has already seen its purchasing power slashed.\r\n\r\nA liquidity crisis since the autumn saw banks halt dollar transfers abroad, which hampered imports.\r\n\r\nContainer activity had already declined by 45 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to last year, according to Blominvest Bank, while the staggering devaluation of the Lebanese pound led to major price hikes.\r\n\r\n"We were already struggling with the (little) wheat and flour that were available. The mills weren't getting enough or they didn't have fuel to run," Bou Habib said.\r\n\r\nEven before the explosion, Wooden Bakery's 50 branches were only getting two-thirds of the 70 tones of flour they need daily.\u00a0"Now, our central kitchen isn't producing enough to fill shelves," said Bou Habib.\r\n\r\nThe day after the blast, hundreds of customers flocked to the Al-Kaboushieh Bakery in Beirut's Hamra district to stock up on bread.\r\n\r\n"Were completely sold out. Everyone was buying five bags instead of one in case there'd be no more," said employee Hayder Mussawi.\r\n\r\n"Bread is the only way the poor get full; we're not sitting eating steak with a fork and knife," he told reporters.\r\n\r\nOfficials have tried to mollify fears of shortages, saying wheat already in the country would last a month and new shipments would arrive this week at Lebanon's two other ports, Tripoli in the north and Sidon in the south.\r\n\r\n"But they lack silos, pointed out Moussa Khoury, a farming entrepreneur who ran Beirut's grain storage from 2014 to 2017."\r\n\r\n"There's nothing like Beirut port, where grain was being unloaded from ships or pulled from the silos 24 hours a day," Khoury told new agencies.\r\n\r\nHe agreed shops wouldn't immediately see bread shortages but said "enormous problems" would begin to appear in the coming months.\r\n\r\n"Smaller ports in Tripoli and Sidon means lengthier and costlier offloading," which could be added to consumer prices, Khoury said.