Egypt, one of the top wheat importers in the world, is not concerned by market disruptions as the Arab country benefits from a diverse pool of suppliers, the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade told Reuters in a statement.
“Our tender book includes 16 wheat import origins, which provides us with flexibility when it comes to managing the country’s needs for imported wheat,” the statement read.
The ministry added that the expected start of the local harvest in April would provide it with protection against any market disruptions.
Wheat stocks held by top exporters such as the US and the EU are on track to fall to a nine-year low this season, according to the International Grains Council.
The Russian-Ukrainian tension has also already sent up global wheat prices. Russia and Ukraine are major players of the global grains market, with their wheat exports accounting for 23% of global trade in 2021-22, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Egypt is also the largest consumer of Ukrainian wheat, last year purchasing the equivalent of around 14% of its total wheat needs from the eastern European country.
“If, God forbid, there’s an escalation in tensions between Russia and Ukraine, we would be approaching the start of the local harvest and it extends all the way until October,” Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said on Tuesday, (Feb. 15) adding that he was “not concerned.”
Egypt holds 4.5 months’ worth of wheat in its strategic reserves, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Wednesday (Feb. 16). The agriculture minister expects local production of wheat to reach 10 million tonnes in this year’s harvest.
Egypt’s wheat consumption for 2021-22 is forecast to reach 21.3 million tons, up by almost 2.4% from 2020-21, according to the US Foreign Agricultural Service.
Egypt’s wheat imports fell 32% in 2021 amid soaring prices in the global market last year on the back of reduced crop production in some of the world’s biggest producers, higher shipping costs, and trade tariffs, U.N. data showed.
The ministry is studying several scenarios for tapering bread subsidies that provide bread to nearly two-thirds of the population for the first time in decades.
With reporting by Al-Monitor, Reuters, Enterprise