June 3, 2011


French wheat shipments to Algeria to stay constant



In spite of the current drought problems, France's milling wheat exports to Algeria for the 2011-12 crop year will stay the same on the present season's volume, according to non-profit organisation France Export Cereales on Thursday (Jun 2).


French soft wheat exports outside the EU are likely to hit 12.3 million tonnes in 2010-11 down from the April forecast of 13 million tonnes, the body said last month.


This compares with around 9.8 million tonnes of exports in 2009-10, according to the French farm office, FranceAgriMer.


An analyst said, "Concerning 2011-12, French wheat production will certainly go down, but we do not know accurately how much this drop will be. Despite the drought, I am convinced that France will continue to provide the Algerian wheat market in 2011/12 in the same way as 2010-11."


France's worst drought on record is set to weigh heavily on its wheat harvest, French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said this week, thus, potentially denting global wheat supplies.


According to a report released by the French government weather agency Meteo France, the 2011 spring was both the warmest and the driest on record, with a higher average temperature and less rain than in 1976, the previous most severe drought since the agency began compiling the data.


One-third of France's wheat exports currently go to Algeria. Algeria's state cereal purchasing body spooked markets by importing a whopping 1.75 million tonnes in the first six weeks of 2011, equivalent to 33% of import requirements, in order to keep a lid on domestic bread prices.


Rising food prices have been blamed for contributing to the wave of unrest which has rocked the Arab world this year.


French exporters are supplying Libya, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, where buyers are scrambling to get hold of Ukrainian and Russian wheat for delivery in the next couple of months.


Relief for global wheat supplies should occur soon enough after Russia announced plans to lift a wheat export ban on July 1. Russia banned grain exports last summer after the worst drought in more than a century slashed the harvest by around a third, to 63 million tonnes.

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