RUSSIA – The latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report reveals a significant shift in the global wheat export landscape, with Russia emerging as a dominant player and challenging the European Union’s (EU) traditional stronghold in key markets such as Africa and the Middle East.

According to the April 2024 Grain: World Markets and Trade Report, EU wheat exports for the 2023/24 marketing year have been revised downward by 2.0 million tons to 34.5 million tons. 

This revision is attributed to intensified competition from Russia, which has aggressively expanded its export strategy backed by record wheat supplies.

During the first seven months of the marketing year, EU shipments to North Africa experienced a notable decline of 25 percent, while those to the Middle East plummeted by over 60 percent compared to the previous year. 

Russia’s proactive approach has significantly undercut the EU’s market position, leading to a substantial increase in Russian wheat export forecasts by 1.0 million tons to a record 52.0 million tons.

Key traditional EU markets, including Saudi Arabia and Algeria, have witnessed a notable shift towards Russian wheat, primarily due to its competitive pricing. 

In Saudi Arabia, where the EU once dominated with nearly 95 percent market share, the Global Food Security Authority (GFSA) now favors Russian wheat, influenced by declining import demand and Russia’s advantageous pricing.

Similarly, Algeria has witnessed a shift in import preferences, with the Office Algérien Interprofessional des Céréales (OAIC) moving away from traditional reliance on EU wheat. 

Algeria’s decision to relax import restrictions on insect-damaged grain in 2020 has facilitated increased imports from the Black Sea region, particularly Russia, reducing the EU’s market share from 85 percent five years ago to a more competitive level.

These market dynamics highlight a significant realignment in global wheat trade, with Russian wheat gaining preference in traditional EU markets due to its price competitiveness and abundant supply. 

As Russia continues to assert its dominance in the wheat export market, the EU faces increasing pressure to adapt to changing trade dynamics and maintain its competitive edge in the face of stiff competition.

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