Top importer Egypt's wheat stocks are likely to plunge below 1 million tonnes by June 30, as the country's economic crisis cripples purchases from the international market, a U.S. Department of Agriculture report said.
The USDA estimated stocks at the end of the 2011/12 July 1 -June 30 marketing year were around 6.7 million tonnes.
Economic turmoil in the North African country has made it harder to arrange payments for wheat imports, with the pace of purchases by both the government and private sector having slowed dramatically since the start of the year.
Earlier this month Egypt's government said the country's wheat reserves stood at 2 million tonnes, enough to last 81 days, down from the usual stocks of around 6 months' needs.
The government has announced plans to buy record amounts of wheat from domestic production to supply the country's subsidised bread programme, but sources say those targets would be unrealistic even in good times, much less in a crisis when farmers are short of fuel, equipment and spare parts.
Egypt's wheat imports are expected to fall sharply in 2012/13 to around 8 million tonnes, down from 11.65 million tonnes the previous year, the USDA report said.