Frontrunner - 25th February 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week triggered unparalleled price movements in commodity markets. US Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures posted gains of almost 20% on last Friday’s close and, at their peak, were at their highest level since 2008. Fear, panic and speculative trade exaggerated futures price gains but the world’s wheat importers have lost access to a primary supplier of wheat and corn as military action brought a halt to commercial shipping and Ukraine’s ports shut down. Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) held a tender to buy wheat on Thursday which highlighted the market chaos and uncertainty. There was only one offer from French exporters at a price including freight just below $450/t. Egypt has sourced most of its wheat this season from Russia and Ukraine and bought 180,000 tonnes last week from Romania at less than $340/t. Other major wheat importers tried to maintain some calm by assessing their stocks and supply chain options. Iraq has said it currently has sufficient strategic wheat supplies and Tunisia has said it has already secured the imports it needs until the 2022 harvest. Ukraine is thought to have shipped almost 18 million tonnes from its 24.5-million-tonne surplus this season, but it seems highly unlikely that the remaining balance will be accessible in the short term. Russian officials said their ports were operating normally but how sanctions might impact on the Russian wheat export programme remains unclear. 

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