Bad French harvest lets Russian wheat grab west Africa sales


Inroads made by Russian wheat this season into west African countries traditionally supplied by France has posed another challenge to French wheat from Black Sea origins, an export group said.

Flour millers in west Africa have turned to Russian wheat on a large scale for the first time after a poor 2016 harvest reduced supplies in France, and the European Union’s top exporter may struggle to win back market share there, Yann Lebeau of France Export Cereales said.

“In sub-Saharan Africa the door is open now. Whereas before French wheat accounted for 80-90 percent of imported wheat in Cameroon, Senegal and Ivory Coast, we are now losing 20-30 percent market share in these destinations,” he told the group’s annual conference in Paris.

As in north Africa, Russian wheat had made progress through attractive prices and quality.

“There is no longer apprehension about using Russian wheat. The millers are satisfied with the price-quality ratio and the bakers are happy too,” Lebeau said.

West Africa is one of the main export outlets for French wheat along with Algeria and Morocco.

France has already lost ground in north Africa, with Black Sea origins widely used in Morocco and other EU origins gaining share in Algeria.

The popularity of French wheat with Moroccan millers, and Algeria’s de facto exclusion of Russian wheat from its import tenders were underlying advantages for France, France Export Cereales said.

But exporters would need to market French wheat aggressively from the start of the 2017/18 season to regain market share, and counter the usual early-season dominance of cheaper Black Sea origins, it said.

France also faces stiff Black Sea competition in Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importing country, but an easing of a limit on wheat moisture had helped French wheat pick up some sales in the past month, the group said.

Source: Reuters

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