Egypt, the top wheat importing country, marked the first day
of the grain's new season with a 240,000-tonne order – but at prices which
failed to reflect the latest slip in futures, spurring ideas of a quality
Egypt's Gasc grain authority said that, at tender, it had
bought three cargoes of Romanian wheat, and one of Russian supplies, for August
The order, Gasc's biggest since February, was priced at an
average of $252.38 a tonne excluding freight, some $0.20 a tonne above the
price it paid at it last tender, two weeks ago - despite a further drop in
futures since then.
Chicago futures have fallen some 4% over the intervening
period, with Paris wheat futures down 2%.
The resilience of physical prices may be down to concerns
over the impact of late rains on the crop in Romania - Gasc's favourite wheat
origin last season - encouraging merchants to maintain headroom for paying up to
secure quality supplies, Jaime Nolan Miralles at INTL FCStone said.
"There is a big question mark over quality in that region,"
Mr Nolan told Agrimoney.com, highlighting that late rains were also affecting
the wheat crop in Bulgaria.
Gasc wheat purchases by origin
Romania: 60,000 tonnes from Louis Dreyfus, $251.87 a tonne, plus $10.10 freight
Romania: 60,000 tonnes from Toepfer, $252.75 a tonne, plus $10.10 a tonne freight
Romania: 60,000 tonnes from Cargill, $252.50 a tonne, plus $10.85 a tonne freight
Russia: 60,000 tonnes from Nidera, $252.39 a tonne, plus $10.70 a tonne freight
Indeed, Bulgaria, which he visited last week, is "probably
affected worse" by rains which have set into a pattern of, after bright
mornings, kicking off in mid-afternoon.
"It is not just half an hour. The rains are going on for
three or four hours. Farmers are desperate to get into the fields to ensure the
quantity of their harvest, even if they won't get the quality.
"I am expecting significant downgrades for wheat in
'A bit of a premium
For Romania, the situation is not as bad, but there remains
significant doubt over the country's harvest, as Agrimoney.com revealed two weeks ago.
Mr Nolan said: "It looks there has been a bit of a premium
added" in the Gasc tender to secure quality supplies.
Other observers have also cautioned over rains in southern
Europe, where harvest has started in some areas.
"In Europe, recent precipitation is highly appreciated with
respect to corn, but certain fears manifest themselves when focusing on other cereals
since harvest period is [imminent]," Agritel said.
Agrimoney.com has heard mixed reports from the early barley
harvest in southern France, viewed as something of a barometer for the broader harvest.
In central Ukraine too, "widespread" rains have "increased wetness concerns and stalled winter wheat harvesting", weather service MDA said, although it forecast drier weather ahead.
In the US too, late rains have, besides slowing the harvest, raised concerns over
the quality of winter wheat, with quantity already seen hit by drought during
the growing season in the southern, hard red winter wheat belt.
However, talk of quality concerns has spread most to the
soft red winter wheat crop, grown in the Midwest, where persistent rains has
provoked fears of vomitoxin, a fungal residue which can render crop unfit even
for feed use.
Rainfall, while helpful for growing wheat, is a setback to
ripe wheat by encouraging sprouting and cutting protein levels, reducing its
US soft red winter wheat was offered to Gasc at $259 a
tonne, down $5 a tonne, or 2%, on the cheapest tender at the previous auction,
undercutting French supplies.
The 2014-15 marketing year for wheat starts today for most
major northern hemisphere producing countries, with the US, where it began a
month ago, a notable exception.