Hungary harvested 4.84 million tons of autumn wheat this season. While both the total crop and hectare yields remained a few percent short of last year’s, the domestic annual demand of about 2.5 million tons still leaves over two million tons to be exported.
While wheat export prices around HUF 55,000 (US$196) per ton are some 20 percent higher than last year and demand is also good and maize prices are also slightly higher at HUF 46,000 (US$164) producers have no trouble finding buyers, but transport is a major headache. Traditionally Hungarian grains exports leave the country on Danube barges, but record low water levels have brought fluvial shipping to a standstill.
Tamás Petőházi, head of the Hungarian Grains Producers’ Association told Magyar Idők that since harvest began in July, not a single loaded barge has left the country. This has left grain depots bulging at the seams. Road or rail freight would also be an option, but would increase transport costs by about 15-20 percent, so most producers would rather wait, especially since the better part of their crop has already been sold, albeit with delivery to be delayed until water levels rise.
Although Hungary has seen some sporadic rainfall in the past few days, a significant increase in Danube water levels is only expected in the spring. But storage also has its costs and the longer the delay, the more it will eat into farmers’ profits.