Russia's grain export quota puts squeeze on small traders

* Russia's grain export quota seen at 15 mln T for Feb 15-June 30

* To be distributed among traders based on July-Dec exports

* Mongolia, some others may lose Russian grain due to quota

By Polina Devitt

MOSCOW, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Russia's grain export quota for February through June 2021 will consolidate the market positions of major traders and speed the exit of smaller players, analysts said.

The loss of smaller traders will also disrupt supplies to secondary seasonal importers, they added.

The number of smaller trading companies in Russia, one of the world's largest wheat exporters, has fallen steadily in recent years while large exporters - some of which are state-controlled and have crucial access to port infrastructure - have increased their market share.

"The quota will galvanise this process," said Dmitry Rylko, head of the IKAR agriculture consultancy.

Russia's quota of 15 million tonnes of grain between Feb 15 and June 30, 2021 will be distributed among exporters based on their share of July-December grain exports, according to the agriculture ministry's proposal which is yet to be formally approved by the government.

The number of firms supplying Russian wheat to other countries has fallen to 110 so far this season, which started on July 1, from 216 in July-November 2019, Interfax news agency quoted Yelena Tyurina, chief analyst at the Russian grain union, as saying this week.

Small traders - exporting no more than 30,000 tonnes a season - are among those who left the Russian market, Tyurina told Interfax.

"Small markets will be lost due to small players leaving," Arkady Zlochevsky, the head of Russia's Grain Union, a non-government farmers' lobby group, told Reuters.

Russia may lose exports to Mongolia and other markets which tend to import in the second half of the season, Rylko said. Mongolia imported 103,600 tonnes of wheat from Russia in the previous season, mainly in March-May.

The quota distribution among those who traded in July-December this year is still an improvement, analysts said, after a previous export quota caused turmoil, running out soon after it started due to a spike in demand from traders rushing to secure customs documents for future shipments. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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