Exclusive-Traders turn to French wheat for Pakistan as Black Sea supplies tighten

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PARIS/HAMBURG : Traders bought up to seven shipments of French wheat aimed for Pakistan as part of a 300,000 tonne tender last week, European traders said on Tuesday, in a further sign that importing countries are turning to western Europe to fill a gap left by missing Black Sea grain.

A severe drought in Pakistan and the impact of higher fertiliser prices have led the country to make large purchases on the world market where supplies have tightened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It looks like most Pakistan sales made earlier last week are being covered from France, whereas it would have been a typical Black Sea business under normal circumstances but France looks competitive now,” a trader said.

The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) in its international tender last week is reported to have bought 240,000 tonnes from trading house Viterra and 60,000 tonnes from Aston, all at $404.86 c&f free out. Shipment was sought between Aug. 1-25.

China also made a large purchase of French wheat last week, with latest trade estimates putting the volume at between seven and 10 shipments.

“This is another confirmation of France’s good export prospects as the war in Ukraine continues to make Black Sea exports difficult,” a second trader said.

Traders, however, said it still could not be ruled out that some Russian wheat could be supplied in the tenders.

“As the purchases are optional origin, you can never make an absolutely categorical statement on this matter,” a third trader said.

TCP is tendering again this week to purchase an additional 200,000 tonnes of wheat for shipment between Sept. 1-16.

The lowest offer in the tender which closed on Monday was believed to be $407.49 a tonne c&f, European traders said in initial assessments on Tuesday.

TCP is undertaking its usual policy of asking more trading houses participating in this week’s tender to match the lowest price offered, traders said. This could take until Thursday when the Pakistani government will be asked to approve the purchase.