Romanian wheat crop to recover sharply, seen offering for Egypt tenders

Reuters , Thursday 29 Apr 2021

Romania, has been among the largest grain sellers in the EU, and along with France and Russia is an active exporter of cereals to Middle East, with Egypt the main buyer

File Photo: A reaper harvests a field of wheat in Orezu, southeastern Romania, taken on July 2, 2014. REUTERS

Romania’s wheat crop is expected to recover this year after a drought-driven sharp fall in 2020, likely boosting the Black Sea state’s supply on offer for Egypt’s international grain tenders, farmers and traders said on Thursday.

Romania, has been among the largest grain sellers in the European Union, and along with France and Russia is an active exporter of cereals to Middle East, with Egypt the main buyer.

It harvested a meagre 6.4 million tonnes last year, a 38% drop on the year, from 2.1 million hectares, and farmers and traders see a slightly higher acreage, mild winter and optimal soil humidity helping it reap about 8.5 to 10 million tonnes.

That could help potentially create a surplus of about 5.5 to 7.0 million tonnes for exports, as Romania’s domestic consumption traditionally ranges about 2.5 to 3 million tonnes.

“The crops look good, wheat is developing normally, the winter was relatively good, plants did not suffer from frost,” said Mihai Anghel head of Cerealcom Dolj, one the largest agribusinesses in Romania with 25,000 hectares of farmland.

Anghel sees “a level of 10 million tonnes perfectly achievable,” if more rainfall occurs over the next weeks in May.

The National Meteorological Institute said moisture reserve in soil depth up to 1 metre should stay “within satisfactory limits, close to optimal, optimal in most regions of Romania”.

Nicu Vasile, head of the LAPAR League of farmers whose members work 870,000 hectares farmland, said favourable weather will help boost average yields to 3.8 tonnes per hectare from 2.9 in 2020, that should result in a 8.5 million-tonne harvest.

The government has yet to release an official estimate.

A good crop could help its competitiveness in the new marketing year, but a lot would depend on Russia.

“We are on the verge of a good harvest, but we must not forget ‘the Russian roller’ could not be long in coming ... with some aggressive selling,” said grain consultant Cezar Gheorghe.

He estimated Romania’s wheat sales at roughly 3.5 million tones in the 2020/21 season, and sees exports rising to an overall 5.2 to 5.4 million tonnes in upcoming 2021/22 season.

Starting June 2, Moscow will launch a permanent formula-based export tax for wheat, barley and corn, - in its battle to tame the country’s rising food inflation.

Traders said Russian wheat exporters were bidding aggressively for new business, even though they don’t know how much tax they will need to pay to ship the grain.

Egypt’s state grains buyer GASC said on Tuesday it had cancelled an international purchasing tender for wheat for shipment Aug. 11-20, without providing further details. Twelve offers were made.

Traders said the prices on offer were higher than GASC had hoped for. The lowest offer presented at the tender was $268.47 per tonne for 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat. 

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