The EU will be replaced by Russia as the world’s top wheat exporter
Quality issues and a firmer rouble could limit Russia’s export surge, but exports were still expected to set a record, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
The department lifted production estimates to a record 72 million tonnes, but put exports at 28m tonnes.
Issues with EU wheat quality, particularly in France, have meant the EU will be replaced by Russia as the world’s top wheat exporter for the first time.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) forecasted EU wheat exports would fall by about one-quarter to a four-year low of 25.5m tonnes.
France, a major exporter to North Africa, has suffered from poor quality following heavy rain.
Andree Defois, president of Strategie Grains, said she expected French wheat would be edged out of the North African market.
She said: “Other origins able to supply North Africa are very competitive.
“We are at the point where alternative supplies have already found their way to North Africa.”
Algeria has usually imported a high amount of French wheat, but it has been ‘very careful with Russian wheat’, due to quality issues.
Ms Defois suggested ‘this could be one year in which Russia finds a home on Algeria’.
However, Russia’s wheat quality issue may limit its access to those markets.
UK traders have also been looking at opportunities in the North African market.
UK exports doubled in July, compared to last year, but a weaker harvest could mean the export boom does not last.
David Sheppard, managing director at Gleadell, said the UK was expected to have a smaller surplus available to export.
He said: “The exportable surplus will probably be less than 2m tonnes, depending on how long bioethanol plants run and the level of wheat imports.”
FAO has raised its estimate for world wheat output this season to a record high of 741m tonnes, with bumper harvests in Australia, Canada, India, Ukraine and the US, but quality issues have been a problem in many areas.
An abundance of wheat has led to top prices falling to a nine-year low last month.