Italy’s Grain-Import Bill Falls 18% in First Half on Wheat Drop

Italy’s grain import bill fell 18 percent in the first half as the world’s third-largest wheat buyer purchased smaller quantities of corn, wheat and barley.

Grain imports fell to 1.48 billion euros ($1.91 billion) from January through to June from 1.8 billion euros a year earlier, the Rome-based Associazione Nazionale Cerealisti, known as Anacer, wrote in an e-mailed statement today.

Italy’s wheat imports in the crop year through June fell to 6.83 million metric tons from 7.37 million tons in 2010-11, Bloomberg calculations show. That would make the country the third-biggest importer of the grain after Egypt and Brazil, based on estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Soft-wheat imports in January through to June declined to 2.15 million tons with a cost of 493.2 million euros from 2.31 million tons and 606.6 million euros in the first half of 2011, the report showed.

Purchases of durum wheat, the hard variety used to make pasta, fell to 717,222 tons with a cost of 216 million euros, compared with imports of 1 million tons and a durum-wheat bill of 269.3 million euros in the year-earlier period.

Italians on average eat more wheat than people in other countries of Europe or North America, data from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center shows.

Corn imports declined to 1.1 million tons in the first half from 1.64 million tons, and the cost fell to 254.1 million euros from 383.1 million euros, according to Anacer. Barley shipments fell to 284,396 tons from 460,864 tons, with a value of 61.2 million euros from 103.3 million tons previously.

Including oilseed and protein-crop products, spending on imports fell to 2.24 billion euros from 2.58 billion euros.

Italy’s cereal-industry exports amounted to 1.41 billion euros in the January-June period, compared with 1.44 billion euros in the first half of 2011, Anacer reported. The country’s grain-trade deficit shrunk to 830.6 million euros from the year-earlier shortfall of 1.14 billion euros.

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