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France: Reduction in wheat exports to Africa

Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Monday, 23 April 2018

France: Reduction in wheat exports to Africa

On their knees: with last year’s wheat harvest, France had hoped to regain lost ground in Africa, but is struggling to pick itself back up in the face of competition from Russian wheat, which is cheaper and has characteristics more in line with the demands of African millers. “After the poor French wheat harvest in 2016, Russian wheat had an opportunity to enter our market. We tried it, and we found it met our requirements. Since then, we have been working 100% with Russian wheat,” said Imad Talil, from the Senegalese Olam, during a recent meeting organised by France Export Cereals in Paris. During the various discussions, wheat buyers from Senegal, Morocco and Cameroon explained why Russian wheat, which came to the rescue in the absence of crops from the former colonial power, finally won them over, notably due to its high level of proteins. And when we raise the question about the potential risk of Russian wheat entering the Algerian market, number one export destination for France outside Europe, a voice in the audience states “the question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’”. Although the sales campaign for the 2017 crop is reaching its end, the FranceAgriMer organisation estimates that 6 million tons of French wheat has been exported outside the EU, mostly to Africa, compared to nearly 10 million tons two years ago, a record year in terms of production.