Russia wheat suffers quality problems

MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) – Russian wheat export prices were mixed last week after rallying for nine straight weeks due to concerns over a lack of high quality wheat and strengthening competition with France for wheat supplies to Egypt.

Black Sea prices for Russian wheat with 12.5 percent protein content and for August delivery were at US$196 a tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis at the end of last week, up $1 a tonne from a week earlier, IKAR agriculture consultancy said in a note.

“The quality of the crop is not better than a year ago, according to the preliminary data. It was not too good last year,” Dmitry Rylko, the head of IKAR, said.

Prices for wheat with 11.5 percent protein content were at $185 per tonne, down $3, due to rising supply, it added.

According to SovEcon, another Moscow-based consultancy, Russian wheat prices were also under pressure last week due to rising competition in the Egyptian wheat market.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer and the largest buyer of Russian wheat. At the latest state tender, Egypt’s GASC bought 300,000 tonnes of wheat, including 120,000 tonnes of Russian wheat and 120,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat. It also purchased 60,000 tonnes of French wheat.

Russia has agreed to supply a large amount of wheat to the GASC in recent months, and once these contracts are fulfilled, Russian wheat prices may go down as the wheat crop in its southern regions – the main producing area for Russia’s Black Sea exports – is so far as high as a year ago, a trader said.

According to SovEcon, barley prices rose $3.5 to $167 per tonne. IKAR pegged them at $164 per tonne, up $2.

As of July 19, Russia had exported 1.1 million tonnes of grains since the start of the 2017-18 marketing season on July 1, 6.2 percent less than a year ago. That included 520,000 tonnes of wheat, down 37.8 percent from the same period a year ago.

Domestic prices for third-class wheat rose 150 roubles to 9,425 roubles ($158) a tonne in the European part of Russia on an ex-works basis, according to SovEcon. Ex-works supply does not include delivery costs.

Russia’s grain harvesting has been delayed by rainy weather in several regions this year.

Russian sunflower seed prices were stable at 19,525 roubles per tonne, SovEcon said, while domestic sunflower oil prices increased by 500 roubles to 44,000 roubles and export oil prices were up $10 to $735 per tonne.

Sunflower seeds have been sown on a record area of 7.9 million hectares, up 300,000 hectares from a year ago, SovEcon said.

IKAR’s white sugar price index for southern Russia rose to $702.4 a tonne last week from $697.9 a week earlier.

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