Egypt wheat imports expected at 12m mt in 2023/24, up 6.9%: USDA

16 Nov 2023 | Serina Gothard

According to the latest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) GAIN grain and feed market update, Egypt is expected to import 12 million mt of wheat in the 2023/24 marketing year, up of 6.9% on the previous year.

The import increase is due to a decline in production and planted area, which fell from 1.35 million hectares (ha) to 1.45 million ha in 2022/23 in favor of Egyptian clover and sugar beets.

Egyptian wheat 2023/24 production is estimated at 8.87 million mt, 6.6% lower than in 2022/23, USDA said.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, accounting for 16% of global purchases and relying on key wheat suppliers, including Russia, the European Union, Ukraine, and Australia, with wheat consumption estimated at 20.6 million mt in 2023/24.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Egypt has been significantly impacted as the conflict has led to a spike in wheat prices, compelling Egypt to intensify its reliance on Russian wheat imports.

Egypt’s General Authority Supply Commodities (GASC) wheat imports accounted for 50% percent of total imports during the calendar year 2023 between January-August, while the private sector accounted for the rest.

GASC tenders during 2023/24 purchased 1.6 million mt from international markets, of which 1.12 million mt was from Russia, 360,000 mt from Romania, and 120,000 mt from France.

GASC imports in MY 2023/24 are expected to be between 5-5.5 million mt. 

In the last marketing year, which ran from July 2022 to June 2023, GASC imported 5.8 million mt of wheat to support the bread subsidy program.

The 2023 wheat harvest is usually completed at the end of July, with planting in mid-April, but the season was extended until August to give farmers the chance to submit their crops to government collection centers.

The amount of locally produced wheat purchased by the Government of Egypt (GOE) in 2023 was close to 3.8 million mt.

The GOE has increased the procurement price of wheat by almost 70% over the previous marketing year to encourage farmers to sell their wheat to the government and persuade farmers to cultivate more wheat.   

Ending stocks in 2023/24 are estimated at 4 million mt, down 11.5% percent from the 2022/23 estimate due to increased consumption and lower production.

Egyptian corn imports are also set to increase by 8% from the previous year to 6.5 million mt for 2023/24, according to the report, as the increased area dedicated to corn did little to offset issues of heat stress and insect damage.

During the October-July 2022/23 period, Egyptian imports of corn amounted to 4.93 million mt, with Ukraine being the main supplier at 2 million mt, followed by Brazil (1.64 million mt) and Argentina (825,938 mt).

Corn production was estimated at 7.2 million mt for October-September 2023/24, down by 3.2%, despite an increase in planted area to 950,000 hectares from 930,000 in 2022/23, on lower kernel counts and reduced yield throughout the region from July to August.  

Corn consumption in 2023/24 is estimated at 13.8 million mt, up by 2.2% from the 2022/23 estimate of 13.5 million mt.

The increase in consumption is attributed to a 2.7% increase in feed consumption from 2022/23, which was reduced as the war in Ukraine increased international prices and contributed to foreign currency pressure in Egypt.

Ending stocks in 2023/24 are estimated at 23.9 million mt, down by 6.7% percent from 2022/23.