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After Russian moves against Ukraine exports, where is the global wheat market headed?

Lily Jamali Jul 21, 2023
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Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

After Russian moves against Ukraine exports, where is the global wheat market headed?

Lily Jamali Jul 21, 2023
Heard on:
Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Global wheat prices soared this week after Russia withdrew from an agreement — in place for the last year — that had allowed Ukraine to safely export its grain via the Black Sea.

And after attacking one of Ukraine’s agricultural export hubs earlier in the week, Russia is now warning that any ships sailing near Ukrainian ports could be considered military targets.

The markets for wheat and other grains have been fragile since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Ukraine was the world’s fifth-largest exporter of wheat before the war.

“Ukraine was 7% of the world market, so it’s a significant player,” said Jack Scoville, vice president at Price Futures Group.

Russia’s most recent attacks on Ukrainian trade are reflected in wheat prices. Chicago December wheat futures jumped more than $1 this week to peak at about $7.65 a bushel.

“I don’t think that the world wheat market has nearly enough supplies in storage to kind of counteract this,” Scoville said.

Globally, year-end stock levels for wheat are expected to be low. 

“They’re probably the lowest since 2007-8, which was a time when we had very, very high prices,” said Joe Glauber, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute.

But Glauber said the outlook for wheat seems more stable than it did just after Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

“The good news is that we have actually had pretty good production in the rest of the world despite these problems in Ukraine,” he said.

Higher production elsewhere means there’s less concern that the world will run out of wheat, said Naomi Blohm, senior market adviser at Total Farm Marketing.

“We are in a situation where everybody can breathe a little bit because we’ll have enough to get by,” Blohm said.

At least for now. Although another geopolitical escalation — or weather disaster — could change that.

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