French Wheat Exports Prop Up March Farm Trade as Wine Sales Fall

France’s exports of grains including wheat rose in March, helping to reduce the effect of lower shipments of processed agricultural products from wine to candy.

Overall farm and food exports slipped 0.6 percent to 5.25 billion euros ($6.8 billion) from 5.28 billion euros in March 2012, with higher cereal and vegetable sales limiting the decline, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online report today. That masked a 6.7 percent slump in deliveries of so-called transformed farm products.

France is the world’s fifth-biggest exporter of farm and food products, which jointly are the second-largest contributor to its trade balance after the transportation industry, Finance Ministry figures show. The country is a net importer in most other industries, with a trade deficit of 15.9 billion euros in the first quarter.

“The trade surplus with both third countries as well as the European Union grows thanks to grain sales, while the exports of transformed products diminish for both destinations,” the Agriculture Ministry wrote.

France is the 27-nation EU’s largest grain exporter and its third-biggest shipper of wine after Italy and Spain.

Deliveries of cereals excluding rice jumped to 963 million euros in March from 745 million euros a year earlier, according to the ministry. Vegetable sales increased to 250 million euros from 213 million euros.

Exports of soft wheat rose by 115 million euros on the year in March, mostly because of a 24 percent surge in prices, according to the ministry. Deliveries climbed 7.6 percent by volume on shipments to Morocco, Yemen and Tunisia, it wrote.

Beverage sales slipped to 1.05 billion euros from 1.12 billion euros, with exports of wine and champagne dropping by 37 million euros on reduced buying from the U.K. and Japan, according to the report.

France’s exports of processed fish products fell to 53 million euros from 96 million euros, while sales of sugar, candy, chocolates, vegetable oils and dairy also declined.

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