Russian grain ban fuels fears of food price inflation

CONCERNS over sharply rising food prices were stoked yesterday as Russia, the world’s third largest wheat seller, brought in an emergency ban on grain exports.

Experts said the price of bread could shoot up by ten per cent after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the government had banned grain exports until 31 December. Putin said the restriction could be extended into next year if the harvest was bad.

“We must not allow an increase in domestic prices and must preserve the headcount of our cattle,” the Russian PM said.

Russia harvested 97m tonnes of grain in 2009, and it needs 78m tonnes to cover domestic consumption. First deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov stressed that the government had to balance the interests of grain traders with the need to maintain stability on the domestic food market. He said: “We are continually monitoring and analysing grain, feed and seed supplies on the domestic market.”