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Italian Grain Imports Drop as Wheat and Corn Purchases Decline

Italian grain imports fell in the year’s first eight months as the world’s second-biggest wheat buyer cut purchases of the cereal and also bought less corn and barley, the Associazione Nazionale Cerealisti said.

Shipments of grain and cereal products slid to 6.6 million metric tons with a total value of 1.91 billion euros ($2.5 billion), Anacer, as the Rome-based industry group is known, wrote in an e-mailed statement today. That compared with 8.34 million tons and 2.37 billion euros a year earlier.

Italy imported more wheat in the 2011-12 crop year than any other country except Egypt, according to government figures and the International Grains Council. The European country is the world’s largest pasta maker, the International Pasta Organisation says.

Soft-wheat imports fell to 2.85 million tons costing 661.3 million euros in the eight-month period from 3.23 million tons and 816.3 million euros a year earlier, according to Anacer.

Buying of durum wheat, the hard variety used for pasta, declined to 941,050 tons worth 280.6 million euros, compared with 1.35 million tons and an import bill of 368.6 million euros in last year’s first eight months.

Italians ate an average 26 kilograms (57 pounds) of pasta per capita last year, about triple the figure of 8.8 kilograms for the U.S., according to the pasta organization. They consume more wheat on average than people in other countries of Europe or North America, data from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center show.

Corn, Barley

Eight-month corn imports dropped to 1.3 million tons from 1.92 million tons, and the value fell to 298.6 million euros from 454.5 million euros, according to Anacer. Barley shipments slid to 342,170 tons from 652,995 tons, with a worth of 73.5 million euros, against 144 million euros.

Including spending on oilseed and protein-crop products, the value of imports declined to 2.97 billion euros from 3.47 billion euros a year earlier.

Italy’s eight-month cereal-industry exports amounted to 1.89 billion euros, against the year-earlier 1.9 billion euros, Anacer reported. Pasta sales rose to 1.07 billion euros from 989.9 million euros.

The country’s grain-trade deficit shrunk to 1.09 billion euros from the year-earlier shortfall of 1.57 billion euros.

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