The war in Ukraine may impede the country’s ability to export millions of tons of wheat and corn to China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey and elsewhere, and U.S. grain could be called on to fill the supply gap.

“First EU and secondarily U.S. wheat exports may be called upon to replace delayed Black Sea shipments,” says Gro Intelligence, a data analytics company. 

Ukraine, under siege by Russian military forces, still has about 6 million metric tons of wheat and 13-14 million tons of corn that it was expected to ship out before the conflict. But with grain terminals and ports closing, it may not be able to do so for at least the near future, according to market analysts.

As to whether or not the U.S. could supply the wheat in Ukraine’s absence from the market, the U.S. Wheat Associates suggested that it could Friday in a new blog post. Without mentioning Ukraine by name, the group stressed that “the U.S. ‘wheat store’ is always open.”

“The situation the world’s wheat buyers see today is uncertain,” says USW. “Prices are up. Exportable supplies are down. Possible market disruptions are looming. Fortunately, overseas customers know they can depend on the integrity of the U.S. supply chain, the quality of U.S. wheat and our unmatched reliability as a supplier.”

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Ukraine was expected to export about 33 million tons of corn in total for the current 2021-22 marketing year, with 10 million tons going to China, according to Andrey Sizov, a Russian Black Sea grain analyst and author of The Sizov Report who spoke Friday at the USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.

The U.S. shipped 555,200 tons of corn to China from Feb. 11-17, according to the latest trade data out of USDA. It’s unclear if the trade is related in any way to expectations of Ukraine supply disruptions, but the shipments were key in driving U.S. corn exports for the week to a marketing-year high of nearly 1.9 million tons.

A previous version of this story reported 555,200 tons of wheat being shipped to China. It was corn and the story has been corrected. 

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