From Russia, With Love: Wheat for Half the World


Russian food exports are skyrocketing thanks to the world’s appetite for the country’s wheat.

Food shipments from the Black Sea nation jumped 25 percent last year, the most since 2012, to $19 billion, according to the Russian Export Center. The record amount was mostly due to exports of wheat and frozen fish, while sugar volumes also surged.

The world’s top wheat shipper has been grabbing more of the market in recent years as it offloads bumper harvests at attractive prices, and exports are set to cap another record this season. About half the world’s countries buy wheat from Russia, which is trying to cut its dependence on agricultural imports after it banned purchases of some western foods in retaliation to sanctions.

Higher wheat prices also helped Russia earn more from its food sales last year, said Andrey Sizov Jr., managing director at Moscow-based consultant SovEcon. The nation increased exports of products like sweets and sugar as well.

Russian wheat has particularly dominated sales to Egypt, which imports huge amounts of grain to help feed its 95 million people. The North African country last year overtook China to become the biggest buyer of Russian food for the first time since 2012.

Russia's Top Food Market

Egypt regains the title of biggest consumer of Russian food

Source: Federal Customs Service data compiled by the Russian Export Center

Egypt’s purchases of Russian foods such as wheat and sunflower oil jumped 44 percent to $1.74 billion last year, according to the export center. China’s imports of Russian produce like fish and oilseeds totaled $1.72 billion.


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