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Top Russia Grain Trader Says Exports Blocked by Agricultural Watchdog

(Bloomberg) -- A top Russian grain trader said that its wheat exports have been disrupted after the country’s agricultural watchdog faulted its cargoes for not meeting safety and quality standards.

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The owner of TD Rif, Petr Khodykin, said that his ships laden with Russian wheat are being blocked, causing his company “huge losses,” according to online news service Lenta.ru.

The comments are the latest sign of upheaval among traders in Russia, the world’s top wheat exporter. The Kremlin has moved to take stronger control of exports since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with the major Western traders having stopped originating grain for export in Russia last year. The country’s bumper wheat harvests have helped bring global prices down from record highs.

TD Rif manager Marina Turyanskaya said in a letter to officials that its ships had been blocked since March 18 after inspectors started to find that cargo did not adhere to standards. Previous cargoes “freely passed” inspections for safety, quality and import quarantine requirements, the letter said, according to Lenta.

The company is under “unprecedented” pressure to sell its assets for a “negligible price,” the news report added, citing a note from TD Rif’s owner.

Responding to Rif’s comments, Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s agricultural regulator, said that the company’s cargoes are repeatedly failing the safety and quality requirements of importing nations and were also missing shipping documents. Over a million tons or 81% of the company’s grain shipments have been non-compliant with import requirements since the beginning of 2024, it said in a statement.

TD Rif and Russia’s agriculture ministry did not immediately respond to phone and email requests for comment.

Major Western traders exited Russia’s grain export market after local officials and influential industry voices called for their role to be limited. Moscow has also been trying to implement an unofficial minimum price for its grain.

TD Rif has been been one of the largest wheat exporters since the 2014-15 season, quickly growing after being founded in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in 2010. It’s now vying with rival Grain Gates for the top spot, after posting similar grain export volumes in the first half of this season.

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