Wheat Prices Have Been Hot

The wheat market is on fire, thanks to Russia.

Wheat futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange rose last week for the fourth straight time, climbing 4.2% to $US6.3225 according to Bloomberg.

Russia is the world’s fourth largest wheat producer, and Deputy Prime Minister Arkadi Dvokovitch announced Monday that the country will reduce cereal exports within 24 hours. 

It’s the latest in a series of controls to contain food inflation. 

Food costs in Russia have soared in the last few months following its ban on imports from the West in retaliation to sanctions. The collapse of the ruble after Russia’s interest rate hike has also made matters worse.

Wheat futures surged to the highest level since May last Thursday after a Russian exports authority
 only allowed shipments to four countries, even though Russia typically exports to several dozens, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Prices fell into the weekend as investors speculated that European wheat production would make up the offset from Russia. In trading on Monday, wheat futures climbed after the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement.

The wheat Russia is not exporting would add to its local food reserves in a bid to control prices; the cost of bread has already climbed up to 10% in the past month, according to Bloomberg.

Russia’s agriculture minister Nikolai Fyodorov said last Tuesday that an outright export ban is off the cards. Russia has blocked exports in the past to boost domestic supplies.

Here’s a chart showing the steady climb of wheat futures in the last few days.

And here’s the longer term trend in wheat futures as at last Thursday, from Morgan Stanley’s commodity manual.

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