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Russian wheat export prices down with global benchmarks

Reuters, 27.06.18

Russian wheat export prices fell last week amid continuing decline in global benchmarks in Chicago and with Russia still committed to its previous strong forecasts for this season's harvest, analysts said on Monday. Black Sea prices for the new crop of Russian wheat were at $199 a tonne on a free on board (FOB) basis at the end of last week, down from $203 a week earlier, IKAR agriculture consultancy said in a note.

SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, said prices fell $5 to $197.5 per tonne. They are below $200 for the first time since February, it added. Prices for the new crop of barley are quoted at $189-191 per tonne.

As of June 20, Russia had exported 51.2 million tonnes of grain since the start of the 2017/18 season on July 1, up 47.5 percent year-on-year, including 39.4 million tonnes of wheat, the agriculture ministry said. SovEcon said it had upgraded its forecast for Russia's 2017/18 grain exports by 800,000 tonnes to 54.4 million tonnes, including 40.9 million tonnes of wheat.

Its current estimate for the new 2018/19 marketing season, which starts on June 1, is 48.2 million tonnes of grain, including 37.4 million tonnes of wheat.

Farmers have already sown spring grains and pulses on 96 percent of the planned area, or 29.8 million hectares, compared with 30.8 million hectares a year ago, the agriculture ministry said.

Some regions started harvesting 20 days earlier than a year ago due to dry weather. In total, Russia has already harvested more than 1 million tonnes of grain before drying and cleaning, but yields are so far lower than a year ago, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

According to SovEcon, wheat yields in the Krasnodar region are at 6.2 tonnes per hectare now, down from 6.4 at the start of harvesting a year ago. Yields for winter barley in Krasnodar are 6.3 tonnes per hectare vs 6.2 tonnes a year ago, and in Stavropol at 3.9 vs 4.1.

"The weather remains drier than usual in most of the European part of Russia, posing threat above all for development of spring grains," SovEcon said. However, rains are expected in most parts of the central black earth belt and in North Caucasus in the next two weeks, while the Volga regions may remain dry.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat were down 75 roubles to 9,175 roubles ($146) a tonne at the end of this week in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis, according to SovEcon.

The Russian government has started selling up to 500,000 tonnes of grain of 2008-2016 crops from its 4 million tonne grain stockpile to free up storage space and to reduce budget spending on servicing the stock.

It is offering the grain in small batches, mainly in Siberia, in the hope that the buyers will then export it. Since the start of this process on June 20, it has sold 47,115 tonnes of grain in three tenders.

Sunflower seed prices fell by 1,150 roubles to 21,400 roubles a tonne, SovEcon said. Domestic sunflower oil prices rose 75 roubles to 45,250 roubles, while export oil prices declined by $5 to $715. IKAR's white sugar price index for southern Russia was down to $501.65 a tonne from $525.3 a week earlier.

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