Archer Daniels Midland said it was “optimistic” about prospects for the Kiev-Moscow deal to allow safe passage for Ukraine grain shipments, despite the initial setback from a Russian missile strike.

Juan Luciano, the ADM chief executive, acknowledged initial setbacks to Friday’s agreement to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports, after Russia struck Odesa with missile the next day.

“At this point in time… you get encouraging news one day and maybe discouraging news the other day,” he said.

However, he added that “I do believe that both countries are committed to help keep this corridor open” for the shipment of grains, of which “there are 20m, 30m tonnes trapped” in Ukraine thanks to Russia’s invasion.

Small start

Export volumes may start small, as shippers work through problems such as gaining insurance and financing for cargos.

“There are issues in the country about getting fuel. There are issues in the country about getting the crews to man this boat,” Mr Luciano told investors.

“I think that at the beginning, you’re going to see a little bit of a trickle down of exports, maybe smaller boats.

“I think it’s going to take a little bit of building confidence that this works before you can put the bigger boats.”

‘World needs access’

However, “we are optimistic,” he said, adding that ADM was “helping as much as possible”.

“There are a lot of people with good intention. So hopefully, we will see the sea exports to grow over the next two or three months.”

He noted that that “the world needs access to those inventories”, underlining the importance to Ukraine of clearing backed-up stockpiles to allow space for the autumn-harvested crops.

“They’re going to be harvesting in September and October, the corn and the sunseed. So we need that space to be able to store those in September and October.”

The comments followed ADM’s release on Tuesday of forecast-beating results which extended a recovery in its shares from mid-month lows.