Price fall wins US wheat victory at Egypt tender

The tumble in prices won the US wheat its first victory of the season at the benchmark tenders tun by Egypt's Gasc authority, despite the extra cost of shipping to the North African country across the Atlantic.

Gasc followed up its huge 535,000-tonne purchase of European Union and former Soviet Union wheat on January 3 by buying 55,000 tonnes of US soft red winter wheat, offered by Ameropa.

The purchase was the first of US by the grain authority at tender since February last year, although Egyptian buyers, the world's top wheat-importers, had bought 220,000 tonnes through other channels ahead of the tender.

The victory appears testament to the extent to the improvement in the competitiveness of US wheat thanks to its plunge since the end of November, a period during which it has lost 12.4% on Chicago's futures market.

'Far more attractive'

"US wheat has made itself far more attractive over the past few weeks," a UK grain trader told

"Europe has continued to pick up orders, but it can no longer take that for granted, even with its usual buyers."

The US win comes despite a significant freight disadvantage to shipping to Egypt across the Atlantic, rather than just through the Mediterranean and Black seas.

Gasc is believed to be paying $38 a tonne freight for the Ameropa wheat, compared with prices of $16-17 a tonne for shipping from the Black Sea.

The winning US soft red winter wheat offer was, at $265 a tonne excluding freight, considerably cheaper than, for instance, the move competitive Russian grain, priced by Cargill at $293.25 a tonne.

The cheapest French wheat was offered by Louis Dreyfus, priced at $284.84 a tonne excluding freight.

'Record low wheat feeding'

US wheat prices have been hurt by a signs of a slowdown in export sales, by increasing ideas of the world's 2013-14 harvest, which the USDA on Friday upgraded by 840,000 tonnes to a record 712.7m tonnes, and by a switch by consumers to corn.

This dynamic was highlighted by data on Friday which showed US wheat stocks as of December 1 far larger than had been thought, reflecting that "wheat feeding was a record low" for the October 1-December 1 quarter, according to broker CHS Hedging.

Meanwhile, corn stocks were pegged below traders' expectations, implying feed use for the period "at just over 2.4bn bushels, a record for the quarter", CHS said.

In fact, according to CHS Hedging, the figure implies that "wheat feeding was a record low during the second quarter of the marketing year.

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