Up to 83% of Russia’s state grain stockpile will be sold on the domestic market, starting on April 13, the Agriculture Ministry said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
The ministry, which has 1.8 million tons of grain in its stockpile, had previously planned to sell 1 million tons from it.
The government is aiming to increase supply for flour millers and bakers amid the coronavirus outbreak. Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, wants to ease the pressure for bakers and meat producers amid a weakening ruble. It has so far refrained from using tough grain export curbs seen in past crises, which are unpopular with sellers.
The ministry has proposed limiting grain exports to 7 million tons from April through June because of the virus outbreak, which is close to the general market expectation. But the government has not yet approved that proposal.
“In total, it is planned to send up to 1.5 million tons of grain to the domestic market to meet the needs of the flour and bakery industry, as well as the livestock industry,” the ministry said in a statement.
Market players said the move was not being seen as a step towards tightened export quotas, as the state stockpile consists of quite old grain, which the agriculture ministry bought in 2008-2016, located mainly in Siberia, far from Russia’s main export ports on the Black Sea.
Russia used to put great emphasis on having a far larger stockpile, but reduced it in recent years as its annual production became more stable.
The Russian union of flour millers last week asked the ministry “to take measures to eliminate the imbalance in the formation of prices for wheat and flour” in the domestic market.