More UKwheat to go to North Africa

9 February 2001

More UKwheat to go to North Africa

By Amanda Dunn

A NEW market for UK group two wheat appears to be opening up in North Africa, following continued efforts by the British Cereal Exports arm of the HGCA.

"By 2010, 3m tonnes/year of wheat will be imported by Morocco and Tunisia, equating to some 70% of those countries needs," BCE assistant manager Emma Jackson told farmers weekly during a recent four-day visit by North African buyers.

"This is a considerable market, but to date little has been sourced from the UK. France, Canada, USA and Turkey meet much of the demand, although this seasons limited domestic crop and poor quality French wheat have forced the Tunisians to look elsewhere."

Boussen Bejaoui, director of procurement at Tunisias central buying office, Office des Cereales, buys most of Tunisias imports. "We need blending wheats to mix with harder, higher protein American wheats for baguette production. We buy on specification rather than variety and need 78kg/hlw, 13.5% moisture, 10.5-11.5% protein, 130W and 21G.

"Three shipments from the UK have already been arranged and provided quality and price remain acceptable more will be planned for the immediate and medium future," says Madame Bejaoui, who needs a further 250,000t.

Moroccan miller Mamoun Yacoubi Soussane imports 100,000t of wheat for his milling enterprise. "We have seen UK wheat in Morocco but have not yet worked with it ourselves. From what we have seen and discussed with the UK farmers, co-operatives, exporters and traders during the mission it is now only a question of competitive price.

"We buy on specification and wont pay a premium for single variety shipments," says M Soussane who requires 78kg/hlw, 13% moisture, 350 Hagberg, 11.5% protein and 160-170W.

Other Moroccan traders have also expressed keen interest in importing UK wheat this season, confirms Ms Jackson.

"But blending different classes to meet a specification is a cause for some concern," she adds. "The worry is that baking properties of the resultant blend may not be satisfactory. So it is important to encourage a dialogue between the UK exporter and buyer to make sure he knows what the wheat will be used for."

Those comments are echoed by Soufflet Agricultures trading manager, David Doyle. He successfully sent a 20,000t shipment to Tunisia earlier this season.

"The Tunisians issue a tender and specification then buy on the cheapest price. To avoid disappointment and ensure we satisfactorily meet their demands we need to encourage them to be more specific about their requirements.

North African grain buyers were impressed with UKcereal production during a BCE-organised visit last week, which included an insight into the future of quality wheat production at Monsantos Cambridge breeding centre.

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