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Bulgarian wheat exports ease as farmers hope for better price

Bulgaria has shipped abroad close to 2 million tonnes from its bumper 2017 wheat crop so far but exports are slowing as farmers hope for better prices, industry officials said.

The Black Sea state reaped a record wheat harvest of about 6 million tonnes this summer and traders estimate wheat exports will reach 4 million tonnes for the marketing year 2017/18, flat on 2016/17. Bulgarian wheat has been shipped so far mainly to Spain, Italy and Sudan.

Bulgaria has exported 1.88 million tonnes from the new crop since July up to Sept. 10, but volumes this month have started to ease, an industry official familiar with shipping data said.

Just one ship is being loaded at the Black Sea port of Varna to carry 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Spain, the official said. Another ship that will carry 50,000 tonnes abroad is expected to arrive at the port next week, the official said.

Swelling grain supplies in the Black Sea region have hung over wheat prices on global markets.

“Our estimate is that total exports from the 2017 crop will be about 4 million tonnes, the same as in 2016,” said Martin Roussev, head of the Bulgarian Association of Grain Traders.

“Close to 2 million tonnes of wheat have already been exported and we expect exports to go at a slower pace as farmers are hoping to get a better price,” he said.

Another international grain trader operating on the Bulgarian market said farmers had sold the bulk of their feed wheat and were holding back sales due to dropping prices.

Agriculture ministry data showed the average milling wheat price ex-farm decreased by 1 percent to 268 levs ($164) per tonne in the first week of the month compared to the average price in August. The average price for feed wheat eased to 253 levs ($154.80) per tonne in the first week of September.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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