Ukraine grain Exports On the Rise

Having independently resumed operations of its major maritime ports on the Black Sea, Ukraine is forecast to increase grain exports for the remainder of the 2023-24 marketing year, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

FAS’ Global Agricultural Information Network shows that, after an initial dip following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July 2023, total volume of grain exports soared from 2 million tonnes in September 2023 to 5.2 million tonnes in December. In the weeks following its withdrawal from the United Nations-brokered grain export deal, Russia bombed grain infrastructure at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and on the Danube River. Those attacks have lessened in recent months.

To counter the move by Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine developed a new export corridor on the Black Sea following neighboring countries’ territorial waters to reach the Bosphorus Strait. Ukrainian ships then enter Ukrainian territorial waters from Romanian waters near the mouth of the Danube River.

For the 2023-24 season, which runs from July through June, the FAS forecasts an 8% year-on-year increase in corn exports, to 29.2 million tonnes, a 3% increase in wheat exports, to 17.7 million tonnes, a 22% increase in barley exports, to 3.3 million tonnes and a nearly 10-fold increase in rye exports to 170,000 tonnes.

“Based on the high December 2023 export rate, if Ukraine maintains average monthly exports of around 4 million tonnes for all grains combined for the remainder of the marketing year, they will export the vast majority of the harvest, leaving an estimated 5 million tonnes total for all grains remaining as ending stocks for 2023-24,” the FAS said.

It also noted that investments and efficiency of Danube River export routes and transshipment capacity at the Port of Constanta in Romania “continue to increase, providing additional opportunities to maintain export levels. Increased export estimates assume no major damage from attacks on the port infrastructure and incoming and outgoing vessels.”

The FAS also projects a year-on-year production increase for Ukraine’s major grain crops. It forecasts 2023-24 wheat production to rise by 11% to 22.5 million tonnes. Corn production is seen increasing by nearly 17% to 30.5 million tonnes, while barley output is pegged at 5.9 million tonnes, a 2% increase over 2022-23.

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