August 5, 2008


Ukraine's wheat exports could quadruple but logistics a concern


Ukraine has the capacity to quadruple exports to 16 million tonnes in 2008/09 from 4 million in 2007/08, but logistical problems prevent higher sales this season, the head of the grain traders' union UZA said on Monday (Aug 4, 2008).


Food wheat could total about 35 percent of the crop because of wet weather and pests. A large grain producer last week said feed wheat was likely to dominate the 2008 wheat harvest and could account for up to 80 percent of output.


"Technically, we can move out 18 million tonnes, including 2 million of rapeseed. We should have a crop allowing for 18 million tonnes of exports, but 18 million is the limit," UZA head Volodymyr Klymenko told Reuters in an interview.


He said the export volume could include 7 million tonnes of wheat, 4-5 million of barley, 2.5-3.0 million of maize and 1.0 million of other cereals this season.


Ukraine exported 895,084 tonnes of wheat, 1.037 million of barley and 1.6 million of corn in 2007/08. Exports included 3.3 million tonnes of wheat, 5.1 million of barley and 1.1 million of corn in 2006/07.


"Export volumes this season will depend not only on the volume of the crop but also on infrastructure capacities," Klymenko said.


He said seaports had an overall capacity to export 26 million tonnes of grain per season, while a lack of rolling stock limited transport volumes to 18 million tonnes.


Grain exports reached 1.7 million tonnes in the month of July while the railway transported only 1.1 million tonnes with the rest sent by truck.


The grain crop is likely to rise to 43 million tonnes from 29.3 million and Klymenko said wheat output could reach 23 million against about 14 million in 2007.


The wheat harvest is estimated at 23 million tonnes, with food wheat accounting for 8 million tonnes. The country's wheat consumption is pegged at 6 million tonnes, Klymenko said.


According to UkrAgroConsult, a leading agriculture consultancy, milling wheat would account for 50 percent of the wheat crop.

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