The Rise of Ukraine’s Wheat Crop (And Its Exports)

Why Ukraine Wheat Exports are Surging

On Oct. 10, Ukrainian Ag Ministry said that the 2017/18 harvest of Ukraine wheat, barley, and rye is complete. The nation’s corn harvest is 20% done. [1]

Barley output was 11% lower than last year’s harvest at 8.6 million tonnes as it continues to compete with wheat for acres.

In Ukraine, the cost of production for barley is very similar to wheat. However, barley yields are, on average, 25% lower than its cereal brethren.

The agency pegged the final 2017 Ukraine wheat production figure at 26.6 million tonnes. This figure would rival last year’s output and the USDA’s current forecast of 26.5 million tonnes. It’s worth noting that Ukraine wheat exports continue to grow, mainly in North Africa and Asia.

Over the the past 3 years (2015/16 marketing year), Ukraine has enjoyed more wheat trade business from:

– India: 2,600 MT to 2.932 million tonnes (+112,700%)
– Bangladesh: 646,400 MT to 1.72 million tonnes (+166%)
– Indonesia: 220,000 MT to 1.612 million tonnes (+633%)
– Thailand: 489,000 MT to 1.592 million tonnes (+225%)
– South Korea: 578,800 MT to 1.063 million tonnes (+84%)
– Morocco: 488,900 MT to 983,500 MT (+112%)

In the past 20 years, Ukraine’s wheat exports surged from fewer than 2 million tonnes to a USDA forecast of 16.5 million in 2017/18.

As we recently noted, only Russia has seen a larger increase in wheat exports in the past two decades.

Morocco Buying Up Ukraine Wheat

Let’s dig into Ukraine’s export reach by taking a look at Morocco.

In 2016/17 the African nation imported nearly 5.2 million tonnes. [2]

This figure represents a 46% increase from last year. The big surge in imports is primarily due to a terrible local harvest of just 2.7 million tonnes in 2016/17.

With its lower production number last year, the nation’s usual trading partners Canada and Europe weren’t there to save the day.

Instead, Russia, Ukraine, and American wheat accounted for 54% of total Moroccan wheat imports. This figure is a stunning change from recent trade numbers.

In the previous 3 years, those 3 countries comprised just 14.5% of total wheat imports by the North African country.

It’s important to understand some of the content of wheat trade in Morocco: the country has import duties that are elevated in the summer months to discourage any wheat trade.

This year, the durum wheat import duty was 2.5% except for June and July when it was hiked to 170%. For common wheat, in mid-May, the government increased the tax from 30% to 135% through the end of the 2017 calendar year.

Looking at the 2017/18 calendar, the USDA expects Moroccan production to rebound. The agency’s official forecast sits at 5.8 million tonnes of wheat.

That figure is lower than the expectations of the USDA’s attaché in Morocco, which has set a production forecast of 6.25 million tonnes.

With an expected uptick in production, Morocco will likely import less wheat this year. But it won’t be a huge decline. Current forecasts call for imports of at least 4.8 million tonnes.

Will Russia, America, and Ukraine win a lot of Morocco’s business again in 2017/18?

Or will the European Union make a rebound given that France has some better quality product available this year?


Morocco is favouring more imports from the Black Sea recently, especially Ukraine wheat
About the Author
Brennan Turner

Brennan Turner is the CEO of, North America’s Grain Marketplace. He holds a degree in economics from Yale University and spent time on Wall Street in commodity trade and analysis before starting FarmLead. In 2017, Brennan was named to Fast Company’s List of Most Creative People in Business and, in 2018, a Henry Crown Fellow. He is originally from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan where his family started farming the land nearly 100 years ago (and still do to this day!). Brennan's unique grain markets analysis can be found in everything from small-town print newspapers to large media outlets such as Bloomberg and Reuters.

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