Egypt, the top wheat importer, took above 1m tonnes the amount of the grain it has purchased in a two-week buying spree, again turning to the Black for supplies, but with French origin coming closer into contention.
Egypt's Gasc grain authority, at its fifth wheat tender since August 27, purchased 235,000 tonnes of the grain, for a cost of some $63m. The authority also cancelled a shipment bought earlier this month.
The order took to a net 1.07m tonnes the amount of wheat purchased during the $300m spree, all sourced from Romania, Russia and Ukraine, the Black Sea exporters renowned for the competitive pricing of their grain.
Indeed, Ukraine returned to the forefront with offers below $252 a tonne, trumping most rival proposals despite the higher costs of shipping from the country than Romania or Russia.
French wheat gets closer
Nonetheless, French grain, which Gasc often turns too at some point in the season, closed the gap with Black Sea supplies, with an offer from Noble of supplies at $257.80 a tonne, less than $3 a tonne of some of the winning bids, excluding shipping costs.
The cost of shipping wheat to Egypt from France, at some $20 a tonne in bulk, is about $6-7 a tonne more expensive than transporting from Romanian or Russian deep sea ports.
Result of Gasc tender
Romanian origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $254.88 per tonne plus freight of $12.33 per tonne from Ameropa
Russian origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $254.50 per tonne plus freight of $13.23 per tonne from Venus
Ukrainian origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $251.88 per tonne plus freight of $15.90 per tonne from Louis Dreyfus
Ukrainian origin: 55,000 tonnes, at $251.68 per tonne plus freight of $16.10 per tonne from Louis Dreyfus
Orders for November 11-20 shipment
This was by far the closest in 2013-14 that French wheat has come to winning Gasc business, with supplies $7.50 a tonne off the pace at the last tender, at the weekend, and $18 a tonne more expensive at the start of the season, in July.
Overall European Union wheat exports, of which France is the biggest provider, have started the season strong, hitting 3.9m tonnes as of the end of August, more than twice the 1.8m tonnes cleared by the same period last season.
The EU has substantial milling wheat in particular to ship, as Agrimoney.com reported on Monday. Macquarie estimates the milling wheat crop at 93.1m tones, up from 91.6m tonnes in 2012-13, and 84.5m tonnes the season before.
The Gasc tender caused comment among traders for the lateness of its announcement, being unveiled at after 20:00 local time, compared with a normal late afternoon timing.
When the purchases by the cash-strapped country were announced, Gasc revealed that it had ditched a shipment for November 1-10 delivery, and ignored all tenders for that date too, in favour of focusing its purchases on the November 11-20 timescale.
Gasc has now purchased 2.15m tonnes of wheat so far in 2013-14, at a cost of nearly $570m, and all from Black Sea exporters.