Egypt Says Rejected U.S. Wheat Had Ergot Above Allowed Level

  • Venus International shipment had 0.096 percent ergot: ministry
  • Agriculture ministry says it will abide by world standards

Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat buyer, issued a final rejection of a cargo of U.S. grain that the government said contains ergot fungus at levels exceeding internationally acceptable standards.

The North African country initially turned away the 33,000-metric-ton shipment from Venus International on June 13, a decision that the company appealed on July 10. A re-inspection showed the cargo contained 0.096 percent ergot, almost twice the 0.05 percent level the country allows.

The Egyptian trading house will resell the shipment, though the destination isn’t known yet, Venus’s Chairman Mohamed Abdel Fadil said by phone Thursday.

“The ministry will continue to preserve its botanical wealth by rejecting imported wheat that has an ergot percentage exceeding the allowed level,” the Agriculture Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

Egypt similarly rejected cargoes of French, Canadian and Polish wheat earlier this year because they contained traces of the naturally occurring fungus. Together with conflicting statements from the government about how much ergot was allowed in imports, the rejections roiled the wheat market and led traders to withdraw their offers or charge higher prices over the last season. Earlier this month, Egypt issued a decree confirming it would accept international standards for ergot.

As a result, the first tender for this season drew offers from 13 companies, more than double the amount from earlier this year. The country bought 180,000 tons of wheat from the Black Sea region in a tender on Tuesday. 

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