EU wheat hits contract low pressured by ample world supplies

A farmer harvests wheat during sunset. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
A farmer harvests wheat during sunset. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Valerie Parent

European wheat prices hit a contract low in late trade on Thursday, pressured by hefty global supplies and a slight fall on U.S. markets.

Benchmark December milling wheat on Paris-based Euronext closed 0.6% lower at a contract low of €168.75 a tonne.

The International Grains Council (IGC) on Thursday increased its forecast for 2019/20 world wheat production by 1 million tonnes to 764 million tonnes, with upward revisions for crops in France, the United States, Ukraine and Argentina partially offset by diminished prospects in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Traders said hefty supplies weighed on prices but stressed the lack of new elements to give the market a clear trend.

“Bearish elements are starting to be behind us and there is not much room for a rise in price in a very competitive global market,” one trader said.

Traders feared that the sharp fall in the peso after Argentina announced a new debt plan will increase competition with French wheat in markets such as Algeria.

A cargo is expected to load around 60,000 tonnes of French wheat for China next week, the second shipment this season. France has in recent years exported large volumes of barley to China but wheat shipments to the country are rare.In Germany, the farm ministry on Thursday confirmed expectations the country will gather a larger wheat crop on the year despite concerns about this summer’s combination of heatwave and repeated showers which was stressful for crops.

Germany will harvest 22.71 million tonnes of winter wheat in 2019, up by 15.9% from last year’s crop which was especially small because of drought, the ministry said in its first harvest estimate.

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But the winter wheat crop is 6.6% below the six-year average, with harvesting now generally finished.

“Overall the ministry’s report has confirmed a recovery from last year but with the extremes of hot and wet weather this summer reducing the expected volume,” one German trader said.

“The ministry’s forecast is about the size the market had expected and the crop is a reasonable tonnage despite the weather problems.”

Quality loss, mainly reduced protein content, was suffered by wheat in rain-hit north Germany. But protein levels in south and central Germany are satisfactory and will be enough for domestic milling supplies, traders said.

But German wheat may have to be sold into export markets which accept lower protein levels such as Algeria and Tunisia.

Standard bread wheat with 12% protein for September onwards delivery in Hamburg was offered for sale at 1.0 euro under Paris December against 0.5 euros under on Wednesday. Buyers were seeking at least 2 euros under.

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