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Blog by Nick Paulson, Joe Janzen, Krista Swanson, and Gary Schnitkey, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois and
Carl Zulauf, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, Ohio State University

Ukraine and Russia have become an important source for global supplies of major agricultural commodities in the past 25 years (farmdoc daily, October 11, 2012). These countries, often collectively referred to along with various other Eastern European and Central Asian nations as the Black Sea region, play an important role in the production and export of major grains (corn, wheat, and barley) and oilseeds (especially sunflower and sunflower oil) (Glauber and Laborde, 2022).

In addition to the direct toll it will take on the people of the region, the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week introduces many economic concerns including the impact of the conflict on global agricultural markets.

This article summarizes the role of Ukraine and Russia in production and exports of corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, and sunflower oil. The production and export share data provided in all figures is calculated from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Production, Supply and Distribution database (USDA-FAS PSD). Note that we've chosen to consider the members of the European Union (EU) as a single unit in considering production and export shares and comparing them with other countries.

Global production and export shares for wheat, averaged from 2017 to 2021, are reported for the top 7 wheat producing countries in Figure 1. Russia and Ukraine account for 14% of global wheat production and rank 1st and 5th, respectively. Both countries are prominent exporters, providing nearly 30% of global wheat exports.

The EU, U.S., and Canada are also major producers and exporters of wheat. China and India are major wheat producers, but are net importers and provide relatively small shares of global wheat exports. Other countries with fairly large wheat export shares include Australia (8.4%), Argentina (6.6%), Kazakhstan (4.1%), and Turkey (3.4%).

Production and export shares for corn across selected countries are reported in Figure 2. The U.S. remains the dominant global producer (32%) and exporter (33%) for corn. Brazil (18.3%) and Argentina (20%) rank 2nd and 3rd in corn exports. Ukraine now ranks 4th, contributing over 15% of world corn exports. Russia ranks 6th with a 2.3% share of corn exports. Notably, Ukraine has been the dominant supplier of corn to China. A shift towards import of more U.S. corn to China began in 2020 following a poor Ukrainian crop (He, Hayes, and Zhang 2021).

Growth in the share of world corn production and exports from the Black Sea region (Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) has been substantial, rivaling that of the increase in production in China and both production in and exports from South America over the past twenty years (farmdoc daily, June 2, 2017 and November 18, 2020). Corn production in India, Mexico, and South Africa exceeds that in Russia, but account for smaller world export shares.

To view the complete report, click here.

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