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Prices of wheat flour stable but higher year on year in importing countries

09/10/2019

In the exporting countries of the subregion, export prices of milling wheat in the Russian Federation and Ukraine decreased seasonally in September by more than 4 percent, marking the seventh consecutive monthly decline, although downward pressure was somewhat limited by a recent strengthening in foreign demand. Prices were 15 percent lower than their levels in September last year. The downward trend of the past months and the low level of prices mainly reflect the mostly favourable 2019 production outlook, with harvesting of the spring wheat currently underway. Similarly, in the domestic market, wholesale prices of milling wheat in September were lower than in the corresponding month a year earlier in both countries. In Kazakhstan, export prices of milling wheat, which remained stable in July and August, rose slightly in September despite the ongoing main harvest, mainly due to a pick-up in demand from importers and poorer expectations for the 2019 output, which kept prices about 20 percent higher than their values a year earlier. Although the harvest is ongoing under favourable conditions, a drier-than-average period between June and mid-August in northern key wheat-producing provinces negatively affected yields. Domestic prices of wheat flour remained relatively stable but were well above their levels in September last year. In the importing countries, retail prices of wheat flour were generally higher year on year, reflecting higher export prices from Kazakhstan, the main supplier of the subregion. In Tajikistan, prices increased seasonally in September, after remaining relatively stable between May and August, and were more than 20 percent higher year on year. The high level of prices mainly reflects higher prices from Kazakhstan and a reduced 2018 crop. By contrast, in Georgia, prices of wheat flour remained unchanged compared to August, when they declined from the peak reached in July. Prices, however, remained higher than in September last year, mainly underpinned by the depreciation of the country’s currency. In Kyrgyzstan, prices continued to remain virtually unchanged in September and were only slightly higher than a year earlier, with a stable currency and adequate market supplies contributing to the overall stability in prices. Similarly, prices held steady in Armenia and Azerbaijan in August, although higher year on year, while in Belarus, they strengthened seasonally. Prices of potatoes, another staple food, decreased seasonally in the past two months in most countries of the subregion. In the Russian Federation, prices declined in September for the second consecutive month, by 20 percent, to levels below those a year earlier. Similarly, prices decreased in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan in line with seasonal trends, although remaining higher year on year. Seasonal declines were also reported in Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan in August. In Georgia, prices of potatoes remained relatively stable for the second consecutive month in September, after the sharp seasonal declines in June and July, while they generally increased in Kyrgyzstan.