Tunisia’s ODC tweaks wheat spec to boost supply options

Tunisia’s state backed grains importing agency, the Office de Cereales (ODC), has announced an update to its import specifications for wheat in a move that is expected to boost the number of countries it could import supply from, trade sources have told Agricensus Thursday.

In a French-language document dated May 26, and seen by Agricensus, the agency confirms it has “modified its special specifications for the importation of common wheat,” with the focus falling on an obscure specification known as the ‘swelling index’.

The metric is part of the alveograph parameters – a method of characterising flour.

Tunisia imports around 2 million mt and has traditionally booked much of its supply from the European Union – typically from Black Sea exporters.

Agricensus Export Dashboard data shows 46% of its 1.6 million mt of wheat exports in 2021/22 came from the EU, with 39% coming from Ukraine.

“It’s not very meaningful, it’s just adding more origins,” one trader said, with a second agreeing that “it doesn’t change much,” although it may favor an increase in French and northwest European supply.

Agricensus has not been able to verify the authenticity of the letter, which is published on headed notepaper, but traders see the change as a credible update from the Tunisian government.

The letter asks traders to “take this modification into consideration during the next restricted calls for tenders.”

Tunisia’s ODC last bought volume at a tender from early May, picking up 100,000 mt of wheat and 75,000 mt of barley - despite reports from traders of delays to payment and queues among waiting ships. 

The USDA expects Tunisia to import around 1.9 million mt of wheat in the 2022/23 marketing year.