November 17, 2011


Spanish wheat stocks low; hopes pinned on fresh quotas



Spain wheat stocks in port silos were low and dealers have pinned hopes on the Brussels opening a fresh quota for imports from Ukraine.


Wheat stocks in Spain's main grain port Tarragona will reach an estimated 250,000 tonnes, after ships from Lithuania and Bulgaria finish unloading.


Another 50,000 tonnes of wheat were expected before the end of the year, along with 100,000 tonnes of corn. If confirmed, the shipments will boost total cereal stocks to 400,000 tonnes, down from 600,000 a year ago.


"Stocks here are quite tight for covering the rest of November and December, so we will need much more, whether it is wheat or corn, in the first half of January," a port source said.


"Everything points to everyone waiting for January 1, for the TRQs, to see if that will get things moving, but that is risky. If there's a change in policy in Ukraine, prices will hit the roof," he added.


The EU cleared 1.6 million tonnes of wheat imports in the third quarter under volume quotas called TRQs, which allowed Spain to import heavily from Ukraine, but has cleared none for the final quarter.


Brussels may allow imports of up to 2.4 million tonnes of low to medium quality wheat a year at a specially reduced duty from countries other than the US and Canada.


Dealers said delays by the Grains Management Committee in Brussels in setting a schedule for TRQs in 2012 have made some importers nervous.


"The issue did not come up for the vote in the committee and it seems that doubts over whether it would go ahead or not caused the bounce in port prices," said a report from the Mercolleida agricultural exchange.


Prompt feed wheat was quoted at EUR211 (US$284.2) a tonne in Tarragona, up from 203-206 a week ago, although dealers said some of the gains were an echo of rises by the Paris futures market.


Tarragona is in northeast Catalonia, the region which is home to Spain's pig feed industry, Europe's biggest.


Alternative suppliers of new crop corn across the Pyrenees in France, or locally, were reported in no hurry to sell due to buoyant prices.


In Spain's second-most important grains port, south-easterly Cartagena, the roster showed no Ukrainian wheat arrivals, either. One ship was unloading 45,000 tonnes of Ukrainian corn, while another discharged 38,000 tonnes of corn and wheat from Romania.

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