Russia tightened its grip on wheat orders by officials in Egypt, the top importing country, as they raised purchases so far in 2013-14 close to 2m tonnes - although French grain came closer into contention.
Egypt's Gasc grain authority, at its third wheat tender in eight days, purchased 180,000 tonnes of the grain at an average price of $251.54 a tonne, excluding shipping.
The $47m order took to 1.91m tonnes Gasc's purchases so far in 2013-14, which started in July, all of which have been purchased from the Black Sea exporters Romania, Russia and Ukraine.
However, the latest deal extended a recent trend of Russia, traditionally the main supplier of wheat to Egypt, making up for a slow start by taking 120,000 tonnes.
Indeed, Russian wheat prices - which started the season relatively strong, underpinned by concerns over the amount of the harvest in the South, a major source of grain exports, and quality of supplies in central regions hit by harvest rains – declined for a second week.
At deep water ports, where Gasc orders would be loaded, prices fell $2 a tonne last week to $250 a tonne for wheat with 12.5% protein, according to the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (Ikar).
Result of Gasc tender
Romanian origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $252 per tonne plus freight of $11.57 per tonne from al-Alamiya
Russian origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $251.80 per tonne plus freight of $11.92 per tonne from Glencore
Russian origin: 60,000 tonnes, at $251.80 per tonne plus freight of $12.02 per tonne from Olam
Orders for October 21-31 shipment
They fell even further, by $6 a tonne to $220 a tonne, at shallower Azov Sea ports, a major supply point for exports to Turkey, which overtook Egypt early in the season as the top destination for Russian sales.
"Azov Sea export prices have plunged, mostly because of Turkish lira devaluation and weakened demand from this key market," IKAR said.
Nonetheless, French wheat, which Gasc typically calls on later in the season, as Black Sea supplies run low pushing prices higher, came closer into contention at the latest tender, with the cheapest offer at $258 a tonne, some $6 a tonne out of the running, excluding shipping fees.
At Gasc's last tender, at the weekend, French wheat was $5 a tonne more expensive, and at a premium of $10 a tonne or more to the winning offers.
Paris wheat prices have been weighed down, besides by softening Chicago futures, by a domestic harvest which has proven stronger on quality and quantity than initially thought.