Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Russia Is Exporting More Wheat Than Any Country in 25 Years

Updated on
  • Exports expected to be biggest since U.S. shipments in 1992-93
  • Black Sea nation has been grabbing market share from U.S.

It’s been a long time since any country shipped out as much wheat as Russia.

As estimates for the Black Sea nation’s harvest keep growing, so does the outlook for exports. The world’s top exporter is now expected to sell 36.6 million metric tons overseas, according to consultants SovEcon and the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies, or IKAR. The U.S. was the last nation to ship out more, a quarter century ago.

Wheat King

Russia's exports are seen rising to highest for any country in 25 years

Source: USDA

Helped by fertile soil and more farm investment, Russian wheat output has boomed in recent years and allowed the country to grab market share from major exporters like the U.S. and Canada. Russia’s ever-growing harvests have also added to a global glut of the grain that pushed benchmark futures in Chicago down 50 percent since mid-2012.

Read more: A QuickTake Q&A on how Russia came to dominate wheat

Russia’s most recent harvest turned out bigger than expected as favorable spring and summer weather boosted yields. The record crop and relatively weak ruble has kept Russian grain competitive, while ports have coped with bigger supplies as mild winter conditions kept shipping lanes open later than usual.

New markets for the country’s grain “allows Russia to maintain a record pace of wheat exports,” SovEcon said on its website. One example is Venezuela, where Russia has been sending cargoes every month since starting shipments to the country in August, it said.

SovEcon and IKAR’s estimate for Russian shipments are bigger than the forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which pegs this season’s amount at 36 million tons. That would still be the most since America exported 36.8 million tons in the 1992-93 season, U.S. government data show.

However, the amount is still way below the 48.2 million tons that U.S. exports peaked at in the early 1980s. American shipments remained high for much of that decade, partly as the former Soviet Union relied on overseas purchases.

(Updates with consultant comment in fifth paragraph.)
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