EU Soft-Wheat Export Licenses Climb to Highest Since March

European Union soft-wheat export licenses climbed 29 percent to the highest level since March as smaller harvests in the Black Sea region prompt importers to look to the 27-nation bloc for supplies.

The EU granted licenses to export 408,756 metric tons of soft wheat in the seven days through Sept. 11 from 317,685 tons the previous week, data published online today showed. That’s the most since the 439,902 tons in the week ended March 20.

Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, bought 60,000 tons of French wheat today as part of a 235,000-ton purchase that also included grain from Russia and Ukraine. Russia’s wheat crop may fall to 39 million tons this year from 56.2 million tons in 2011 on drought damage, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

Wheat and barley exports from France, the EU’s largest grower, are expected to climb in the 2012-13 season on reduced competition from Black Sea exporters, crop office FranceAgriMer said yesterday.

EU barley export licenses more than tripled in the latest week to the highest in seven weeks, climbing to 205,895 tons from 62,263 tons the week before, the data showed. That is the most since the week ended July 24, when the bloc granted licenses to export 238,800 tons of barley.

Russia’s barley harvest fell to 14 million tons this year from 16.9 million tons in 2011, while Ukraine’s crop dropped to 6.7 million tons from 9.1 million tons, the USDA estimates. The EU predicts a barley harvest of 53.9 million tons from 51.5 million tons last year.

Total EU soft wheat export licenses since July 2 are 2.54 million tons, compared with 2.93 million tons at the same time last year. Barley licenses stand at 1.65 million tons, compared with about 899,000 tons as of Sept. 13, 2011.

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