South American wheat exports soar to offset tighter Black Sea supplies

29 April 20222 min reading

Record wheat crops in both Argentina and Brazil have provided ample exportable supplies as major importers scramble to find alternative sources of wheat amid the disruption to Ukraine exports.

Brazil, a traditional net importer of wheat, has taken advantage of strong global import demand, tightening global supplies, and elevated international prices to expand its exports. “2021/22 exports, which are adjusted up 800,000 tons this month to 2.5 million, have nearly tripled since last year’s total and are just under its 2010/11 record,” USDA said in its April Grain: World Markets and Trade report. Brazil, which typically ramps up exports in December and tapers off in April, has exported 2.1 million tons so far this year. Monthly exports in December, January, and February all reached record levels. Compared to previous years, Brazil has expanded its exports significantly to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Argentina, meanwhile, is normally a top global wheat exporter. “2021/22 exports are adjusted up 500,000 tons this month to 15.0 million, up 56 percent since last year and surpassing its 2017/18 record by 1.0 million tons,” the report said. Argentina usually boosts exports in November following harvest, peaks in January, and drops off in April. Exports total 11.5 million tons so far this year and February exports hit a record. Vessel loading data indicates that exports in March remained over 2.0 million tons. Apart from frequent buyer Brazil, major destinations include Indonesia, Algeria, Morocco, Chile, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Price-sensitive import markets, especially in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, continue to have strong demand for competitively priced wheat as typically lower-priced Ukrainian wheat remains inaccessible. Argentine export bids remain just under $400/ton while Brazilian export unit values averaged $295/ton in February, making both origins an attractive alternative amidst escalated global prices and supporting record and near-record exports in 2021/22.

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