Ukrainian grain export still low, despite positive improvements

07-12-2022 | |
Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

Problems with infrastructure and blackouts are hurting Russian grain export, the pace of which lags behind last year’s level.

Since the beginning of 2022/2023, Ukraine has exported 6.87 million tons of wheat, by a factor of 2.12 times lower compared with the same period of the previous year, the Ukraine Customs Service estimated. Ukraine also saw its barley export plummet to 1.48 million tons, or more than 3 times compared to the level of the previous year. On the other hand, corn export spiked by nearly 60% to 9.66 million tons.

Grain exports by land on the rise

Grain export from Ukraine by land is picking up pace. Currently, over 450,000 tons of grain from Ukraine are transported through Poland monthly, the Polish Infrastructure Minister Andrzej Adamczyk said last week.

That is 16 times more than in the same period of the previous year and over 50% more than in the middle of 2022, Adamczyk said.

“We are constantly working on improvements that increase the amount of Ukrainian goods, in particular agri-food products, exported through our territory,” he said.

Polish farmers protest against Ukrainian grain

Large exports by land have even triggered protests from several groups of Polish farmers, who warned that the price of corn on their market dropped by 40% over the past month. Farmers expressed concerns about uncontrolled grain imports from Ukraine and that some share of grain originally destined for transit actually lands on the Polish market.

On the other hand, cheap Ukrainian grain reportedly has eased tensions in the feed market for the benefit of poultry and pig farmers, who complained about skyrocketing costs in the previous years.

Volumes fluctuate

Despite the renewal of the grain deal, guarantying Ukrainian grain export by sea, foreign sales still fall substantially short of the 2021 figures. Besides, the volumes remain unstable. For instance, Ukraine exported less than 3 million tonnes of grain in November, down from 4.2 million in October, the Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov reported.

Ukraine news outlet Obozrevatel citing Cargill reported that currently, Ukrainian grain exports are damaged by blackouts, as port workers experience difficulties loading grain to ships during night-time, Russia aims regular waves of missile and drone attacks at parts of the energy infrastructure. The Ukrainian government estimated that these strikes damaged more than 30% of the energy infrastructure in the country.

On the other hand, the next harvest is expected to equal to 60 to 70% of the pre-war level, Obozrevatel reported.

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