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India Bans Exports of Wheat Flour in Latest Move to Stem Rising Food Prices

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India issued a ban on wheat flour exports in a further effort to control rising domestic wheat and flour prices. The move is the latest in series of export restrictions by India aimed at cooling food price inflation. 

India is one of the biggest producers of wheat and wheat flour, and the export ban risks inflaming already tight global supplies. World wheat inventories, excluding China, are forecast to drop in 2022/23 to the lowest level in 14 years, as Gro wrote about earlier this week.  

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February halted Black Sea wheat exports, global wheat importers turned to India for affordable wheat flour supplies. India’s wheat flour exports reached a record high in May, jumping fourfold from a year earlier, as shown in this Gro Portal display.  

The strong export demand, coupled with India’s reduced wheat harvest this year, have pushed domestic prices for wheat and wheat products to record highs, as can be seen in this Gro Data Series chart. The proprietary Gro Data Series aggregates local Indian prices to arrive at a national average. 

India’s new ban on wheat flour exports was preceded by a series of export restrictions to help control domestic prices. In mid-May, the country banned wheat exports. A week later, it capped how much sugar could be exported. Then, in July, it instituted wheat flour export restrictions that required traders to secure permission before exporting wheat flour.

India fluctuates between being a net exporter and net importer of wheat, depending on domestic production. After five years of bumper crops, India last year exported about 8 million tonnes of wheat and 400,000 tonnes of wheat flour, mainly to countries in the Middle East and South Asia.  

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