Algeria steps up grain imports, eyes Tunisia "virus"

Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:59pm GMT

Analysts were quick to make the link to food security at a time when wheat supply has tightened after weather related problems, including last year's drought in the Black Sea and flooding damage in Australia which has hit crop quality.

"All these countries are scared stiff, especially when you see what is happening in Egypt," French analyst Michel Portier from Agritel said, noting that he expected Cairo to tender to buy more wheat soon.


Regional neighbour Egypt, grappling with unprecedented protests against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, on Wednesday said it had six months of wheat supply and that its buying programme was normal.

Nomani Nomani, vice chairman of the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), told Reuters: "Further contracts will just be to secure strategic supplies."

Saudi Arabia, which on Monday expressed concern that a global rise in food prices could drive up inflation, earlier this month said it hoped to double wheat reserves to a year's worth within three years.

Talk circulated in European grain markets on Wednesday that the Gulf kingdom could be looking to tender for as much as 500,000 tonnes of wheat soon.

"There is still wheat around even though prices are high," the German trader said, stressing that oil rich countries were well placed to meet rising prices.

<p>A French farmer fills a container with wheat after harvesting a field of wheat in Hirson, northern France, August 6 2009. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol</p>
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