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French Wheat Sales Seen Facing Protein Risk by Granit’s Everling

France’s wheat exports to North Africa are at risk because the average protein content in the grain is falling, according to Jean-Philippe Everling, the executive director of French grain trader Granit Negoce.

“For several years now, in France, in milling wheat we have a trend of falling protein,” Everling said at a grain-industry conference in Evreux, France, yesterday. “We need to have a wheat that finds a place in nearby countries. We’re on a razor edge with our 11 percent protein.”

Export markets demand milling wheat with protein content of at least 11.5 percent, according to the Granit director. Average protein content in French soft wheat was 11.4 percent last year, similar to 2011, crop office FranceAgriMer reported in September.

France is the European Union’s biggest wheat exporter, and more than half of the country’s soft-wheat crop is sold abroad, meaning farmers depend on exports for prices, according to Everling. The country’s wheat exports have shifted away from EU countries since 2007-08 in favor of nations outside the bloc, mostly for milling quality grain, he said.

French exporters risk losing out to shippers with better grain quality on sales to North Africa and the Middle East, Everling said. The standard for Russian wheat is 12 percent protein, he said.

“We export milling wheat, we’re not the only one,” the Granit director said. “We’re in a tight market, but not in a market of shortage. To supply the market, you must have the adequate quality. If we don’t supply it, don’t worry, they’ll find other suppliers.”

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