South African Wheat at Highest Since 2008 Amid Ukraine Tension

Wheat futures traded in South Africa reached the highest price since 2008 amid the continued standoff between Russia and Ukraine, threatening export supplies of the grain.

Ukraine will be this year’s sixth-biggest shipper of wheat, according to International Grains Council estimates. The nation is South Africa’s second-largest supplier of the cereal after Russia, accounting for 36 percent of imports since the current season started at the end of September, according to data on the South African Grain Information Service’s website.

“Escalating tensions in Ukraine are causing supply disruptions,” Benjamin Swanepoel, an independent trader, said by telephone from Johannesburg. “Ukraine is a very big exporter of wheat, and any disruptions there will be the cause of rising prices.”

Wheat for delivery in May rose 2.3 percent to 4,005 rand ($367) a metric ton by the noon close on the South African Futures Exchange. That was the highest level for a most-active contract since June 17, 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Russia is wresting control of Ukraine’s southern Crimea region, sparking the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. Ukraine says its neighbor has as many as 19,000 troops in the area. South Africa is a net wheat importer and sub-Saharan Africa’s largest grower of the grain after Ethiopia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

White corn for delivery in May dropped 1.9 percent to 2,502 rand a ton, while the yellow variety for delivery in July gained 0.9 percent to 2,235 rand a ton. Ukraine will rank third globally this year among exporters of the grain, according to the IGC.

South Africa is the continent’s largest producer of corn. White corn is the source for a meal that’s a staple food in the country, while the yellow variety is mainly fed to animals.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tshepiso Mokhema in Johannesburg at tmokhema1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net Dan Weeks, Nicholas Larkin

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