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A new cloud of Ukrainian grain is hovering over Europe?

Нов облак от украинско зърно тегне над Европа?

Ukraine has exported almost 2.4 million tonnes of grain so far this month, slightly less than the 2.7 million tonnes exported in the same period in 2023, agriculture ministry data showed on Wednesday. The ministry did not provide an explanation for the reduction.

Grain exports from Ukraine in the 2023/24 July-June marketing season have so far fallen to around 26.3 million tonnes from 29.7 million in the same period a year ago, the data showed. It includes 10.1 million tons of wheat, 14.4 million tons of corn and 1.5 million tons of barley.

The country traditionally realizes the majority of its exports through its deep-sea Black Sea ports. The biggest obstacle to Ukrainian export prospects, however, may be the shipping crisis in the Red Sea.

The Red Sea crossing is vital to Ukraine's Black Sea program for exports to Asia. About 30 percent of recent shipments through the new corridor are destined for China. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia are other key Asian destinations. January exports are already down from December, and February is unlikely to recover as long as the problem persists.

The strikes on ships sailing in the Red Sea forced many ship owners to divert from the Suez Canal and sail around the Cape of Good Hope, a decision that added at least two weeks to shipping.

This will obviously reduce Asian demand in the first half of 2024 and could lead to cheaper Ukrainian grain hitting European Union markets, further aggravating the situation for its suffering farmers.

The Ukrainian government expects a harvest of 81.3 million tonnes of grains and oilseeds in 2023, with an export surplus for 2023/24 of around 50 million tonnes.

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