Estonian Grain Goes Deep in Africa


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Estonia is a small country in Northern Europe with a population of only 1.3 million, but its grain exporting capacity is ample. Rising Wheat prices and export opportunities motivated Estonian farmers to increase the Wheat area while reducing areas for Barley and rapeseed. Estonia’s total spring and winter grains area reached 373,000 hectares (HA) in MY 2021/22.

According to the USDA, my 2021/22 Estonian Wheat production was forecasted at 820,000 MT. The Estonian Wheat area planted increased by 13,000 HA, as farmers are optimistic for another year of high prices and export opportunities. Estonia is a net exporter of soft Wheat. The USDA forecasted Wheat exports slightly lower than the previous year due to more limited grain availability. In reality, the production amounted to 736,000 tons.

High global prices strongly motivated Estonian exporters, especially for non-EU markets in MY 2020/21. During the first nine months of MY 2020/21 (July-March), Estonia exported almost 561,000 MT of Wheat, a 12-percent decrease from the previous year. Morocco became the leading export destination that year, replacing Saudi Arabia in MY 2019/20.

Barley grain production was projected at 490,000 MT in MY 2021/2022, a 12.7-percent decline from the previous year. But, the production totaled 396,000 tons. The USDA expected domestic feed Barley consumption to diminish slightly from MY 2020/21 due to lower grain availability. For rye, the agency projected MY 2021/22 production at 80,000 MT, a one-percent increase over last year, primarily due to a slight increase in the area planted.

Estonian Grain Goes Deep in Africa

Estonian Grain Trade

Estonia sells two-thirds of its grain to the world market, but the last year’s war-induced price increase raised the question of how to deal with grain exports. According to the AgFlow data, Algeria dominated their Wheat export market with 0.08 million tons in 2022, followed by Cameroon (0.06 million tons), Nigeria (0.05 million tons), Ghana (0.05 million tons), and the United Kingdom (0.04 million tons). The following markets were African countries such as Angola, Namibia, and Madagascar. For Barley, Saudi Arabia led their export market with 0.12 million tons in 2022, followed by Spain (0.1 million tons), Turkey (0.06 million tons), Egypt (50,000 tons), and Finland (24,680 tons). 

In 2021, cereals exports fetched €171 million, down €35 million from the year before. 433,000 tons of Wheat was exported for €106 million, and 218,000 tons of Barley was worth €47 million. Indrek Aigro, Head of cereals trade at Copenhagen Merchants, said that Wheat has traditionally been the number one export commodity, followed by Barley.

“Estonian Wheat exports go toward human food rather than animal feed in 2022. The quality of Wheat is good enough. Most of our grain exports will go to Africa. We can see Nigeria dominating, but Mauritania, Senegal, and Angola are also there. Estonian Barley will go to north Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) or Saudi Arabia,” Aigro said.

In 2020, Estonia exported Wheat worth $165 million, making it the 26th largest Wheat exporter in the world. In the same year, Wheat was Estonia’s 19th most shipped product. The leading destinations of Wheat exports from Estonia were Morocco ($46 million), the Netherlands ($17 million), Turkey ($16.7 million), Saudi Arabia ($15.2 million), and South Korea ($12.4 million).

The same year, Estonia exported Barley worth $56.8 million, making it the 17th largest exporter of Barley in the world. At that time, Barley was the 62nd most shipped product in Estonia. The leading destinations of Barley exports from Estonia were Saudi Arabia ($26 million), Algeria ($21.3 million), Netherlands ($3.6 million), Morocco ($3.5 million), and Israel ($962k).

Other sources: NEWS ERR

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