Russia, last season’s third-largest wheat exporter, may harvest as little as 40 million tons this year, the Agriculture Ministry said Sept. 6. That’s less than the harvest of 41.5 million tons in 2010, when the country’s worst drought in a half century spurred a 10-month ban on exports. Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said Sept. 21 that new export curbs can’t be ruled out amid dry weather this year, while Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has said there’s no need to restrict shipments.
Even if Russia’s government doesn’t officially limit exports, the country is unlikely to ship much grain after the end of this year because prices are climbing, said Roger Baker, a Geneva, Switzerland-based merchant manager with CHS Inc., the largest U.S. cooperative, which markets 2 billion bushels of grain and oilseeds a year. Business will initially shift to European exporters, with U.S. wheat becoming more competitive in the first quarter, he said.
In Russia, “the market is going to lock the door,” Baker said in an interview in Edinburgh. “Prices have gone to where it’s allowed the market to do its job.”
Ukraine’s supplies are also dwindling. The country may curb wheat exports from mid-October as sales approach the 3.2 million-ton mark, Sergey Feofilov, director of Kiev-based researcher UkrAgroConsult, said in Edinburgh. Ukraine exported 2.6 million tons of wheat so far, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation said Oct. 2. Ukraine’s wheat exports will fall to 4 million tons this season from 5.44 million, the USDA estimates.
Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, has purchased supplies from France in at least four tenders in the past month, after favoring shipments from the Black Sea region for much of the season. In a tender on Oct. 3, Egypt also bought 60,000 tons from Argentina.
European grain stockpiles, including wheat, corn and barley, may total 26.8 million tons at the end of the 2012-13 season, down 12 percent from a year earlier, according to the London-based International Grains Council.