November 25, 2008

Russian grain prices start to stabilise


Russian grain and sunseed markets continued on a downward trend last week, although prices for some cereals began to stabilise and even increase due to government purchases and exporters demand, analysts said.


The domestic ordinary wheat export price varied between US$150 and US$160 per tonnne, FOB Novorossiisk, the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) said.


3rd-grade wheat increased by US$2 per tonne to US$162 in the south of Russia, 4th-grade wheat dropped slightly to US$120, 5th-grade feed wheat decreased by US$6 to US$96, while feed barley dropped by US$8 to US$95 per tonne.


SovEcon agricultural analysts said exporters had set 4th-grade wheat prices in a wide range of 3,500-4,400 RUB per tonne, CPT deep and shallow-water ports.


It said exporters offered to buy 5th-grade feed wheat at 3,000-3,400 RUB per tonne, CPT shallow-water port, and were offering 2,200-2,600 roubles per tonne of corn, which Russia traditionally does not export.


SovEcon said average 3rd-grade wheat prices in the European part of Russia declined by 225 RUB per tonne, while in the Central Black Soil region they rose by 50-100 RUB.


4th-grade wheat fell by an average of 75 RUB per tonne, while feed wheat and feed barley lost 100-150 RUB. Export demand prevented corn prices from a further decline.


Last week, wheat of Russian origin won three major import tenders for a total of 180,000 tonnes, which shows a recovery in interest after a substantial fall in domestic export prices, IKAR said.


One of the key reasons for this is the record-high intervention purchases. Last week the government acquired 416,000 tonnes of grains, with total purchases reaching almost 1.5 million tonnes since the start of the season, IKAR said.


According to IKAR's preliminary information, grain exports have reached 9.7 million tonnes since the start of the current season, including 8.6 million tonnes of wheat.


This is a rise on the same period of last year, although export volumes in October and November 2008 were lower than in the same months of 2007.


The Russian government is considering special measures to support domestic grain trade and export activities. There are two key versions of the plan, both of which envisage the introduction of export subsidies and other support measures, IKAR said.


SovEcon added the plan may include cutting railway fees and extending loans to countries which buy Russian grain and flour.


Domestic sunseed prices have not changed much, varying around US$195-US$205 per tonne, IKAR said.


It said the liquidity crisis had caused substantial payment delays on the part of processors, which is discouraging farmers from supplying sunseeds.


SovEcon said exporters, which have for the first time shown interest in setting sunseed prices in the region of 5,500 roubles per tonne, including delivery to ports, had provided support to domestic prices.


Average prices rose slightly last week in the North Caucasus, and their descent slowed in the Volga and Central Black Soil regions.


The crude sun oil export price varied between US$690 and US$710 per tonne, while domestic prices continued to descend last week, IKAR said. SovEcon said domestic crude sun oil lost 500 RUB per tonne.


IKAR estimated Russia's sunoil exports at a record 102,000 tonnes, while SovEcon believes exports were 88,000 tonnes compared with 12,000 tonnes in September.

Another attempt by refiners to raise white sugar prices was unsuccessful, IKAR said. Dollar-denominated prices declined slightly to US$511 due to the strengthening of the rouble.


US$1 = 27.388 RUB (Nov 25)

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