Agri-commodity market tracker: Viterra exit from Russia; strike could hinder Argentina's soy and corn trade

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/bfk92
© GettyImages/bfk92

Related tags Viterra Russia commodities Corn soybeans Argentina

Viterra confirmed late last week that it will cease its origination and export programs out of Russia after July 1, 2023.

Following continued monitoring of the situation over the past year, Viterra said it concluded​ that its activities in Russia no longer fit the long-term direction of the company.

“We are assessing options to transfer our business and assets in Russia to new owners and will provide further information when and if appropriate.”

CRM Agri, in a review of that development, said it is likely that Russian organizations will take over these assets and continue to export grains - as is evident from their ongoing acquisition of vessels. 

“The risk now lies in detachment of the Russian grain industry from global supply chains as it looks set to become increasingly state controlled and opaque, elevating the risk that Russian grains could be weaponized in the years ahead at a time when global food security is once again at the top of government agendas around the world," added the UK agri-commodity market analysts.

Strike could hinder Argentina’s soy and corn trade

In other agri-commodity developments, an indefinite strike called by the Argentinian grain inspectors union, Urgara, last week could restrict Argentina's soybean and corn trade, just as the harvest season gets underway. 

The union called for higher wages for the inspectors given the rising inflation. Grain inspectors analyze grains held in storehouses and loaded onto ships.

Argentina is the world's top exporter of soybean oil and meal, and the third-largest shipper of raw soybeans and corn. 

Argentina's Rosario agro-port hub terminals were operating normally​ on Thursday, the first day of the strike, reported the country's Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities (CAPyM).

"The ports are not affected," Guillermo Wade, manager of CAPyM, told Reuters, adding that, at most, "those who have stocks will be receiving a little less merchandise or less than the estimated, but they are very specific cases."

US prospective plantings 

On Friday (March 31), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its US prospective plantings and quarterly grain stocks reports, noted AHDB in an outlook. 

"All wheat plantings for 2023/24 were larger than analysts expected at 20.2Mha, up 9% on the year. Spring wheat area is estimated at 4.3Mha, down 2% on the year.

"Maize plantings were also greater than trade estimates, pegged at 37.2Mha, up 4% on the year."

However, analysts also warned that wet weather in southern parts of the US crop belt and snow in the Dakotas and Minnesota could delay maize plantings in the coming weeks, according to AHDB's report, citing Refinitiv data.

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