Skip to content Skip to footer

Ukraine: Two Years of Wheat Exports In Review

As we enter the third year after the invasion of Ukraine, the landscape of Ukrainian trade, and, specifically, exports of wheat, have drastically evolved. As the world’s 4th-largest exporter of wheat and meslin in 2023, Ukraine has remained a relatively stable producer of wheat over the past decade and has remained especially resilient over the past two years. Its export volumes mirror those seen from the US and Canada, and grew by 43.6% in 2023, compared to sizeable declines due to drought and adverse weather conditions seen in the US (-12.9%), France (-33.2%), and Argentina (-78.9%).

In a February 21st, 2024, graphic published by Barron’s, four key destination markets were analyzed to understand how Ukrainian wheat and meslin exports have remained so resilient. Europe — led by Spain and Romania — has exploded in wheat demand over the past four years, while Asia, Africa, and the Middle East have stagnated or contracted.

This resilience of Ukrainian wheat exports is due in large part to the expansion of destination markets in Europe. Spain, now the top destination for Ukrainian wheat and meslin, had its demand for wheat grow 245.6% in 2023, to almost 4 million tons, and just under 25% of the market share. This rapid growth is even more significant considering in 2021 Spain only received 158.7 thousand tons, just 0.79% of the market share, and was Ukraine’s 26th largest destination market for wheat and meslin.

Another key European market over the past two years is Romania. Previous to 2022, Ukraine did not export any wheat or meslin to Romania. Instead, Romania sourced its wheat from Bulgaria and Hungary, which accounted for 94.5% of Romanian wheat and meslin imports in 2021. In 2022, Ukraine began exporting to Romania, and immediately accounted for 45.4% of the market share that year. Similarly, in 2023, Ukraine was the second-largest country of origin for Romanian imports of wheat and meslin, holding 27.7% of the market share.

In contrast to European expansion, the demand for Ukrainian wheat in other global regions declined over the past two years. The countries that declined in export market share the most in 2023 were Algeria (-99.7%), Yemen (-64.7%), Pakistan (-56.6%), and Tunisia (-52.3%). Using mirrored trade flows for these four countries, Bulgaria is the top country of origin for wheat and meslin, with 23.8% of the market share, with Canada growing 104.8% in 2023.