Wheat isn’t just about our diet. Wheat significantly impacts cultures and is an essential staple that connects people and communities. Although wheat sales rise and fall, it’s a go-to food for many. Wheat has saved millions of lives. However, wheat is an umbrella term and includes other grains exported worldwide from Russia to Canada.
Because of the war between the world’s biggest wheat producer Russia, and Ukraine, the fourth largest producer, grain stores are in jeopardy. The USDA (Department of Agriculture) predicts that by the end of 2022-23, wheat inventories will decline to 34% of consumption.
Did you know? Ancient Egyptians used moldy bread to treat infections. Flemming discovered penicillin when he isolated mold spores growing on bread.
Wheat Exports by Country
Wheat is the world’s 64th most traded product. Wheat generates a total trade of $51.4 billion, representing 0.31% of total world trade. The number of wheat export between 2019 and 2020 suggest a 10.9% growth. For the curious, finished vehicles are the #1 traded good.
India is the second-largest wheat producer of all countries in the world. It recently harvested records as farmers increased wheat planting due to favorable prices and good weather.
According to Reuters, this windfall could prompt India to lift its current ban on wheat export and impact high inflation prices in other countries.
There is a substantial distinction between the most significant wheat growers and the largest wheat exporters in the world. For example, Russia, Canada, and Ukraine are traditional wheat exporters, but statistics show that there are new countries battling for world trade status.
Wheat is a cereal from the commonly cultivated grain family:
- Corn (Maize)
Durum and meslin wheat are separate entities.
Largest Wheat Exporters
Wheat is a global commodity traded on the stock market. China is the largest wheat producer and harvested 2.4 billion tonnes over the last two decades, accounting for 17% of total production. Russia exported $7.3 billion in 2021, making it the most prominent global exporter.
Fourteen of the top 15 wheat exporters in the world are in Europe (Kazakhstan straddles Eastern Europe and Central Asia). Argentina is the South American entry at #7.
Countries Generated the Highest Wheat Surpluses via Global Wheat Trade
Wheat is traditionally a cold-climate crop grown in the northern hemisphere. This makes countries like Russia, Ukraine, Canada, and China the ideal environment geographically.
However, innovative wheat farmers in southern hemisphere countries are looking elsewhere as food shortages continue as climate change impacts crops around the world.
In 2021, these mega wheat producers saw significant export numbers of net wheat exports. Net wheat exports are calculated on a country’s total exports minus the imports. Countries operate on a continual import-export cycle, and the figures in the following table contain the surplus value of wheat exports against imports.
Russia leads with the highest surplus on the wheat trade in 2021, followed by Canada, USA, and Australia. (Figures from Worldstopexports.com)
Countries Posting Greatest Trade Deficits From the Global Wheat Trade
Many countries are trying to offset their food resources and develop new sustainable wheat-growing methods. On the African Savannah, a new wheat strain created from ancient and modern grains is making headlines.
Below are the statistics of countries with negative net wheat exports during 2021. Net exports are the value of total wheat exports minus the value of total imports. The figures in the table below represent the deficit of wheat import purchase minus its exports.
Indonesia, Nigeria, and China experienced the highest deficits in the international wheat market. Other countries can take advantage of this gap in the market and fill the supply chain.
NASA predicts that climate change can change how countries grow crops, and maize will see a decline of 24%, while wheat could attain a growth of 17 by 2030. While temperature for crop yields is a factor across the world, high carbon dioxide in the atmosphere impacts growth yields but devalues the nutritional content.
Largest Wheat Producers
In the US, the Futures market was already experiencing a rise. The low supply of wheat in early 2022 took a drastic turn when the war between Russia and Ukraine led to market insecurity.
Drought conditions in the Southern Plains forced the HRW to peak in 2022. Russia, Australia, and Ukraine added more pressure to pricing expectations with abundant exports.
China, India, Russia, Canada, the USA, Australia, Argentina, and the European Union are among the largest wheat producers in the world. However, China, India, and the EU are the largest wheat consumers.
Top 10 Wheat-Producing Countries 2022
This list highlights the top 10 wheat-producing countries in 2022 and sheds light on their wheat production and export statistics.
China is the world’s largest wheat producer growing over 137,723,000 million metric tons. It exported 312,000 tons in April (2022), a 97% increase over March. China also exported more grain and fertilizer, while other countries cut back or banned exports.
The European Union consists of 27 countries, eight of which are in the top 15 wheat export countries, including Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.
India is the world’s second-largest wheat producer in the world. Recently, India introduced a wheat export ban to encourage an increase in local stockpiles to boost state reserves and stabilize domestic prices. India has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies but ranks 101 out of 116 on the Global Hunger Index report.
Oh, those Russians. Russia has the climate and the geography to be among the world’s top wheat producers. Russia, however, is number one regarding wheat exports; in 2020, it exported $10.1 billion. Further, Russia has the world’s 11th-best economy based on GDP and is number 13 in total exports but only in 78th place for per capita of GDP.
The USA is all about being #1 in anything, including the economy. It ranks #2 in exports and #1 in imports. The export value of wheat for the American economy is $7.04 billion.
As of January 2023, the US experienced a 40-year export low due to a lack of demand. The USA was once the leading wheat exporter in the world.
Australia’s economic rank increased to the #12 position in 2021. Although it has only a small percentage of the world’s population at 0.3%, it accounts for 1.7% of the global economy. In 2021, Australia produced as much wheat for export as Canada.
Its wheat export value is $2.68 billion, with the highest wheat production on record at $15 billion, but expected to fall over 2023-24.
Canada is among the top exporters and wheat growers in the world, with over $7.31 billion in export value. Despite its small population, Canada was #9 in the world’s economy based on GDP. Canada exports $637 billion in goods, setting a new record with a 7% growth over 2019. Canada has a robust and cost-effective labor pool.
Pakistan ranks #41 in the world economy for GDP and #172 in the economy in terms of GDP per capita. Recent flooding has affected wheat production and slowed exports.
Pakistan is importing wheat to build reserves and eliminate import duty on wheat. Wheat is Pakistan’s largest crop (based on area sown) and its main dietary staple and is 72% of the caloric intake.
Not surprisingly, Ukraine’s economy decreased by one-third last year due to the fallout of the war with Russia. It is the largest fall since 1991 when Ukraine separated from the Soviet Union.
It ranks #55 for GDP economy and #46 for exports. Traditionally Ukraine is one of the leading wheat-producing countries and generated $4.61 billion in exports despite the conflict. Ukraine is synonymous with wheat and supplies many European countries.
Turkey is the world’s largest bread consumer. Turkey’s average per capita bread consumption is 199.6Kg (440 lbs) per person. Turkey ranks #19 for world economy per GDP and #87 for GDP per capita. It is one of the biggest exporters of Wheat flour at $949 million. However, Turkey can’t grow enough wheat.
World Wheat Supply
As the world’s population grows and the demand for plant-based food and wheat increases, many countries can increase their economic growth through exports. Healthy and growing economies balance imports and exports as they impact the GDP, exchange rate, inflation rate, and interest rates.
If a country imports more than it exports, it negatively affects the currency’s exchange rate. A devalued currency drives exports and raises import costs. It’s a cycle that no economy wants to get trapped in. Every country looks to develop a healthy balance.
In recent years new top wheat exporters came to the forefront in 2020 to 2021:
- India up 609%
- Australia up 167.2%
- Bulgaria up 96%
- Romania up 89.2%
- Argentia up 46.5%
On the downside, these five countries had decreased export wheat sales:
- Lithuania down 9.3%
- Russia down 7.8%
- Germany down 5.8%
- Kazakhstan down 5%
- Poland down 4.9%
Fastest-Growing Wheat Suppliers From 2020 to 2021
Wheat has always been an important food crop for humanity, and we’ve been farming it for 8000 years. Wheat remains the crop grown on more land mass than any other crop and is the essential grain grown across the world.
India led the way in being first in having the highest increase in wheat production, with substantial growth and export value. This Hindustān Republic is the second most prolific wheat-growing nation in the world.
- Export Value 2021 $1.73 billion
- Export Value 2020 $251 million
- Export Value Growth $1.48 billion
- Export Value Growth 590%
Australia is the number #1 fastest among wheat suppliers and had a productive season growing and exporting the world’s most essential food source, competing with Russia and Canada for trade rights.
- Export Value 2021 $7.36 billion
- Export Value 2020 $2.68 billion
- Export Value Growth $4.68 billion
- Export Value Growth 175%
Bulgaria sits on the Balkan Penisula wedged between Romania and Greece. In 2022, Bulgaria saw a record yield of wheat crops, and it remains one of the largest wheat producers in Europe.
- Export Value 2021 $1.49 billion
- Export Value 2020 $749 million
- Export Value Growth $736 million
- Export Value Growth 98.3%
Romania is another one of Europe’s powerhouse wheat producers and saw a substantial decrease of up to 18% in 2022, but enough for a surplus.
- Export Value 2021 $2.33 billion
- Export Value 2020 $1.17 billion
- Export Value Growth $1.17 billion
- Export Value Growth 99.9%
Grain farmers constantly battle the weather regardless of where they farm. In 2021-2022, Argentinian farmers set a record wheat harvest to supply the shortfall set by the Russian and Ukrainian conflict. While wheat prices soar, so do fertilizer costs around the world.
- Export Value 2021 $2.71 billion
- Export Value 2020 $2.18 billion
- Export Value Growth $526illion
- Export Value Growth 24.1%
Wheat Imports by Country
Let’s take a look at the top wheat-importing countries in the world and the factors that influence their wheat import patterns.
The most significant goods import for Egypt is wheat at $5.2 billion in 2021, according to oec.world. Its most notable exports are refined petroleum, gold, and crude petroleum.
Indonesia had significant wheat imports of $6.1 billion in 2020 but only insignificant amounts of wheat imports for 2021.
China has the highest population in the world and needs massive resources to feed its people. In 2021, China, aside from being the biggest wheat producer, imported $2.94 billion. Wheat typically has a tariff (11.6 for 2018), and it rates as the 322ndn lowest tariff in HS4 products.
Turkey is the world’s largest wheat flour producer and exporter and can’t rely on its own domestic production. Wheat is a crucial crop. Turkey’s grain supply was hampered by drought in 2021 and imported $2.69 billion +4.6%.
Wheat imports are like a tug of war. The EU relies on wheat imports from its largest suppliers, Brazil and Ukraine. In October 2022, wheat imports from Brazil decreased by 17%, and wheat imports from Ukraine increased by 25%.
It’s worth remembering that wheat encompasses other grain forms like sunflower and rapeseed. The EU imported 17.5% of the world’s wheat.
Algeria imports vast volumes of wheat and bought over 8.3 million tons from the world market in 2021-2022. Experts predict Algeria will continue to purchase over 8 million tons next year. The wheat pool supplied Algeria with $2.34 billion +4%.
Morocco imported $1.59 billion+2.7% in wheat, primarily from France, Canada, Ukraine, and Argentina. It is the 14th largest importer of wheat.
The Philippines doesn’t produce wheat, but flour products are essential in the diet of affluent people. The country imported $1.95 billion +3.3%.
Russia is Nigeria’s biggest wheat supplier, and since the war started between Russia and Urkain, prices soared on wheat products, including bread which is a ready meal in Nigerian homes. Nigeria imported $2.7 billion +7%.
Japan imports most of its wheat from the USA, Canada, Australia, and France. Japan imports 90% of its grain from overseas.
Wheat Exporting Companies
Wheat is an invaluable commodity traded on the stock market. The value of commodities is in constant conflict with the value of stocks and bonds. For investors and traders, having wheat in a portfolio bolsters declines from other segments.
Wheat is so crucial that it can affect the rate of inflation. Therefore, wheat exporting and import companies are vital to the grain trade.
The list here contains the names of companies that form 73% of the world market (2003) based on OXFAM and Alibaba resources.
Top wheat-trading companies in the world and their country of origin.
- Cargill (United States)
- Archer Daniels Midland (United States)
- Bunge (United States)
- Louis Dreyfus (France)
- Tropolis (Canada)
- Pentarch (Australia)
- FENIL (Russia)
- SB Import & Export (Germany)
- Agro Resources International LLC (Ukraine)
- NUPUR International (India)
- Zaharni Zavodi – AD (Bulgaria)
Most of us don’t think about where our daily bread comes from, and in North America, we have developed a love-hate relationship with cereal grains. There’s always a new diet that restricts or promotes eating healthy wheat grains.
How Would a Strong U.S. Dollar Impact the Trade of Grain Produced in the United States?
The US dollar is the most widely used currency and is the world’s principal reserve currency since WWII. As the US dollar appreciates in value, USA wheat prices in world markets rise also. When this happens, the demand falls, and US wheat farmers export less. It might be an opportunity for other countries to become leading wheat exporters.
How Much Wheat Does the US Import From Russia?
The US is a significant wheat importer, #32 in the world. It buys most of its wheat from Canada, France, Argentina, the UK, and Italy. According to USA trade agreements, the United States doesn’t import wheat from Russia.
The wheat exporters and importers affect the economy of the complex global market and constantly evolving. The war between Russia and Ukraine, two key players in the wheat export business, has seriously impacted the economy of many countries. For some countries, it’s an opportunity.
Wheat is the most important food source for humans, and it’s also an untapped fuel source. It is the most significant commercial crop in the world and is exported and traded 24/7.
For wheat farmers, regardless of scale, it’s always a question of whether it was a good or bad wheat crop. Every wheat producer from Russia to Canada is making a difference.
Regardless of how hard farmers work, the weather has the final say on the wheat crop’s productivity.